DNA Extraction is Bananas!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Nedum Aniemeka

May 5 - 1 This week at Ariel, the girls of Sisters4Science received a visit from Dr. Ana Shulla! After the initial excitement over Dr. Shulla having the same name as Ana from Frozen, Dr. Shulla was able to tell the girls about her work as a scientist. Dr. Shulla works at The University of Chicago as a microbiologist and came the school to teach the girls about DNA! By completing a simple experiment, the girls were able to extract DNA themselves from a banana. A lot of the girls already extracted DNA from strawberries last season with Joyce Pieretti, so it was nice for them to get a refresher on this super fun experiment with a different type of fruit! Plus, all the new girls that joined this spring were able to extract DNA for the first time!
Dr. Shulla started off her lesson by asking the girls if they knew what DNA stood for. Because so many of our girls did their final Reflection of Knowledge presentations on the DNA extraction last season, we had a few DNA experts in our midst! Antoinette let everyone know that DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, and it’s the building blocks that make all of us unique. To add on to this, Nyssa told us that DNA is shaped like a double helix. With that quick debriefing, the girls got to mashing some bananas for their extraction. Each girl got a chance to smash the banana they were using so that it would form a smooth enough mixture to pass through the filter paper they were using for the experiment. By following the experimental protocol that each of the girls had a copy of, we were able to successfully see the DNA when we added our mixture to May 5 - 3ethanol in the end! The DNA looked like a white blob at the bottom of the girls’ test tubes. Christiana said it looked like floating cotton candy! Overall, the girls seemed to really enjoy the experiment and loved working with Dr. Shulla as well.
For a physical activity break, the girls and I formed a Human Knot! The point of the May 5 - 2game is to entangle everyone together by grabbing each other’s arms, then untangle the knot without breaking arms. The game was a bit rough at first and the girls spent more time laughing than untangling themselves, but we eventually did it. A little teamwork goes a long way!
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