High School Student Laboratory Field Trips

In 1988 the DNALC began offering DNA manipulation labs to large numbers of high school students during the academic year. Lab "field trips" on DNA restriction and transformation supported the rapid implementation of these experiments in AP Biology classes on Long Island. The DNALC has also helped teachers implement PCR-based experiments to examine human DNA polymorphisms. DNALC instructors stress an interactive approach linking the process of discovery to learning and strive to offer cutting-edge experiences inspired by techniques and tools currently in use by research scientists.

Gene Chip Bioanalyzer

FEATURED LABS:

We are pleased to offer an new laboratory, Forensic DNA Profiling, as well as an updated version of Human DNA Fingerprinting. These labs offer students the unprecedented opportunity to analyze a sample of their own DNA with equipment similar to that used by forensic scientists. State-of-the-art DNA chip analyzers can resolve DNA sizes far more accurately than possible with agarose gel electrophoresis. Coupling chip analysis with a new, fast amplification protocol will allow students to isolate, amplify, and analyze their own DNA during a field trip to the DNALC. Students will leave with an electropherogram that shows their genotype just like the ones produced by a sequencing machine.

Forensic DNA Profiling*

Download this Laboratory Protocol in PDF.

Lab time: three and 3/4 hours

This lab examines a highly variable tandem repeat polymorphism, like the ones used by the FBI for DNA fingerprinting. The improved size resolution of the DNA chip allows students to identify their genotype, something impossible with agarose gel electrophoresis. Students prepare a sample of their own DNA from cells obtained by saline mouthwash. The automated technique of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used to amplify polymorphic DNA fragments then samples are loaded into DNA chip analyzers.

Human DNA Fingerprinting* using DNA Chip Analysis

Download this Laboratory Protocol in PDF.

Lab time: three and 3/4 hours

This experiment examines an ancient DNA polymorphism, mimicking forensic DNA fingerprinting and genetic diagnosis. Students prepare a sample of their own DNA from cells obtained by saline mouthwash. PCR is used to amplify polymorphic DNA fragments, then samples are loaded into DNA chip analyzers. (This is an updated version of the current DNA Fingerprinting field trip, replacing agarose gels with the DNA chip.)

*Participation in this laboratory requires a signed consent form (provided by the DNALC) from the parent/guardian of each student under 18 years of age.

CLASSIC LABS:

We continue to offer four tried-and-true laboratory experiences. DNA restriction analysis and bacterial transformation are required by the Educational Testing Service as part of the Advanced Placement Biology Curriculum and provide students with an extensive hands-on laboratory experience. The human DNA fingerprinting lab and human mitochondrial sequencing lab allow students to analyze their own DNA.

DNA Restriction Analysis Results

DNA Restriction Analysis

Lab time: three and 1/2 hours

This experiment demonstrates that DNA can be precisely manipulated and that it behaves as predicted by the Watson-Crick structure. Students use restriction enzymes, the scissors of molecular biologists, to cut DNA from the bacteriophage lambda. The resulting DNA fragments are analyzed by agarose gel electrophoresis. Photographs of students' results are posted on the DNALC Internet site.

Bacterial Transformation

Lab time: two and 1/2 hours

This experiment illustrates the direct link between an organism's genetic complement (genotype) and its observable characteristics (phenotype). Students introduce a gene for antibiotic resistance into the bacterium E. coli. Following overnight incubation, transformed bacteria are compared to unexposed bacteria for their ability to grow in the presence of ampicillin.

Human DNA Fingerprinting* using Agarose Gel Electrophoresis Analysis

Lab time: three and 3/4 hours

This experiment examines DNA polymorphisms that are the basis of forensic DNA fingerprinting and genetic diagnosis. Students prepare a sample of their own DNA from cells obtained by saline mouthwash. The automated technique of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used to amplify polymorphic DNA fragments. Staff amplify and electrophorese the DNA samples during the laboratory, and post class results on the DNALC Internet site.

Human Mitochondrial Sequencing*

Download this Teacher Prep & Follow-up in PDF

Download this Laboratory Protocol in PDF

Lab time: three and 3/4 hours

This lab examines Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in the human mitochondrial genome. Students amplify a small region of their own mitochondrial DNA by PCR and use the product as a template for DNA cycle sequencing. The students obtain their "finished" sequence through the DNALC Internet site. Computer analysis of the data is performed at school using the DNALC's bioinformatics tool "Sequence Server."

*Participation in this laboratory requires a signed consent form (provided by the DNALC) from the parent/guardian of each student under 18 years of age.

Reservation Details

  • Human DNA Fingerprinting and Human Mitochondrial Sequencing are restricted to students in 10th, 11th or 12th grade.
  • Each Curriculum Study member school is entitled to 4 reservations. Non-Curriculum Study schools are limited to 2 reservations.
  • The cost is $22 per student regardless of lab; there is a minimum charge of $440, regardless of lab.
  • Unless other arrangements have been made in advance, all labs begin promptly at 9:30 AM. Any group that arrives more than 30 minutes late for their scheduled lab will risk forfeiting the reservation.
  • Before the visit, teachers will receive an information package to help with student preparation.
  • Classes canceled less than one month prior to the scheduled date will not be permitted additional lab visits.

Supported by Perkin Elmer Corporation; Roche Molecular Systems; New England Biolabs; and Brinkmann Instruments, Inc.

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