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Thanks, National Grid Foundation for hands-on science!

Green Genes

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center (DNALC) is proud to announce the completion of the annual National Grid Advanced Genetics Program (NGAGP) in the Central Islip Public Schools. Generously supported by a grant from the National Grid Foundation, the program provides 6th graders with enrichment opportunities in genetics and biotechnology, including hands-on labs presented in-school by DNALC educators and field trips to the Dolan DNA Learning Center in Cold Spring Harbor.

I think that the workshops were a nice thing to do because they help students learn in a fun way instead of having to write a long paragraph from a lesson.

— Edenilson, sixth grade science student

Modeled after the DNALC’s popular Fun with DNA summer camp, this 6th grade curriculum includes labs designed to enhance the existing New York State science curriculum. This year, 285 students performed a series of four in-school labs. These included building 3D models of animal cells and DNA, DNA extraction from plant cells, and using corn as a model for genetic inheritance.

In addition, students visited the Dolan DNA Learning Center to view the Ötzi the Iceman exhibit and learn what the mummified remains and well-preserved belongings of this mysterious man tell us about humans during the late Stone Age. Each class also performed two engaging forensics labs that introduced several techniques used to solve real-world mysteries, including DNA fingerprinting.

What I liked about the trip was that we got to use the microscope to see the cells. That was the first time I experienced that. It was fun!

— Katherine, sixth grade science student

“The resources and experiences that have been shared with us by Cold Spring Harbor Lab’s DNA Learning Center are so valuable to my students, and to me as their teacher,” said Mrs. Alison Calvi, one of the school’s science teachers. “Having the professionals from the DNALC visit my classroom with their equipment is the only opportunity my students have to engage in hands-on learning. The knowledge of the educators who visit us provides the perfect real-world connection for what we learned in our books.”

Upon completion of the program, all of the participating students were surveyed to assess attitudinal changes and rate the overall experience. Overwhelmingly, a large majority reported that they felt this was a good way of learning about DNA, and agreed that the program had a positive effect on their interest in science. More than half the students also reported that they have become more interested in studying science and possible careers in STEM as a result of their participation in the program—an especially important and encouraging outcome.

Thanks to the support of the National Grid Foundation and the Central Islip UFSD, the DNALC looks forward to continuing this unique collaboration for years to come.

Written by: Amanda McBrien, Assistant Director of the DNA Learning Center |

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