May 19, 2024
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May 19, 2024
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Ma’ayanot AP Bio Students Conduct DNA Research

Temperatures may have plummeted last week, but there was no brain freeze at Ma’ayanot. Juniors and seniors in Esther Slomnicki’s AP Bio classes traveled to the DNA Learning Center (DNALC) located in Manhattan. The DNALC, which is an operating unit of the renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, is the world’s first science center devoted entirely to genetics education and it allows students to perform advanced laboratory investigations in a professional setting. With the help of instructor Melissa Lee, Ma’ayanot students used DNA extracted from their saliva, followed by a technique called PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) to create copies of a frequently-studied gene (called the Alu transposon) located on chromosome 16. They were able to visualize their own DNA using a technique called gel electrophoresis, which separates DNA based on size.

“Different versions of this gene have different sizes, so the students were able to see which version of the gene they had by studying the gel under a UV light,” explained Slomnicki. The students continued to analyze their results in class by comparing their DNA fingerprint with a larger population database.

“One of my favorite parts of going to the Harlem DNA Lab was having the opportunity to use real, professional equipment that scientists use on a daily basis,” said Ora Hochberg, a junior. “It was eye-opening to see and use tools that were able to measure tiny quantities and heat, cool and spin our samples. I gained from this experience a real understanding of what it means to be a researcher and how our own DNA works.”

Tiferet Mondrow, a junior who is considering a career in science research, added, “Spending the day in the DNA Learning Center brought our classroom learning to life and I found the lab so much more meaningful because we used our own DNA. I am so thankful for this experience because it gave me a little taste of what it would be like to go into this field in the future.”

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