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Middle School Student Activities

The DNALC program of genetics laboratory experiences includes a variety of hands-on experiments to introduce elementary and middle school students to the wonderful world of molecular biology. We provide onsite field trips to our labs and museum at the DNA Learning Center as well as in-school instruction. Many of these activities are also available at DNALC West in Lake Success and Harlem DNA Lab in NYC.

The following activities can be scheduled as a DNALC field trip or in-school. See below for reservation details.

Suggested for Grades 5 & 6:

Baggie Cell Model
Learn about the structure and function of the cell and make a cell model.
Diversity of Life
Investigate taxonomy using compound microscopes.
DNA Models
Learn about the genetic code and make a 3-D model of the double helix.
Mutant Organisms
Discuss the impact of genetic mutations and observe mutations in fruit flies and/or nematodes using stereo-microscopes.
Mendelian Inheritance
Use corn as a model to investigate the laws of inheritance.
DNA Extraction
(Grades 5, 6, 7) Extract DNA from harmless bacteria.

Suggested for Grades 6 & 7:

Molecular Models and Bubbling Liver
Observe the metabolic enzyme catalase as it reacts with hydrogen peroxide and learn about the factors that affect enzyme activity.
Enzymatic Food Production
Use enzymes to make cheese and apple juice.
Better Milk for Cats
Build a bioreactor to convert regular milk into lactose-free milk.
Gene Therapy
Genetically engineer "lactose intolerant" bacteria to become "lactose tolerant.
Bacteria and Antibiotics
Observe the effect of antibiotics on bacteria.
Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria
Genetically engineer bacteria to become antibiotic resistant.
Viral Infection
Infect bacteria with a virus and observe the result.
Glowing Genes
Genetically engineer bacteria with the GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) gene for bioluminescence.

Suggested for Grade 8:

Glowing Genes
Genetically engineer bacteria with the GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) gene for bioluminescence.
Protein Purification
Collect and purify green fluorescent protein from glowing bacteria.
DNA Fingerprint
(Grade 8 only) Use gel electrophoresis to analyze and compare amplified human DNA samples.

Reservation Details

In-school Programs

Teachers can select one, or a sequence of several of the above labs.

  • In-school instruction is $1,200/day (for up to 5 classes)
  • Contact Erin McKechnie at (516) 367-5166 to make a reservation.

DNA Learning Center Field Trips

  • Class size is limited to 32 students.
  • For most field trips, we can accomodate two classes (64 total students) at the same time (9:30-11:30 AM or 12:00-2:00 PM).
  • Hands-on Laboratory/Museum Tour field trips are $300 per class.
  • Hands-on Laboratory/Computer Lab trips and two-hour lab trips are $350 per class.
  • Contact Erin McKechnie at (516) 367-5166 to make a reservation.

Most popular field trip hands-on labs:

  • Glowing Genes (Grades 6, 7, 8)
  • DNA Extraction (Grades 5, 6, 7)
    • Two-hour field trip options include:

      • 1 hour hands-on laboratory and 1 hour tour of the DNALC museum exhibition.
      • 1 hour hands-on laboratory and 1 hour computer lab, The Mystery of Anastasia: Use forensic techniques to identify the remains of the Russian royal family, and the missing princess Anastasia Romanov.
      • One two-hour hands-on laboratory, such as Glowing Genes or DNA Fingerprint.
      • Two one-hour hands-on laboratory such as DNA Models and DNA Extraction.

      Extended Day Field Trips

      CSI: Learning Center Grades 6-8 $650/class
      • 9:30-11:30 DNA Extraction & Mystery of Anastasia
      • 11:30-12:00 Lunch
      • 12:00-2:00 DNA Fingerprint (recommended for 8th Grade)
      • 12:00-2:00 Fingerprint Analysis: Dusting for Prints (recommended for 6th/7th Grades)
      Survival of the Fittest Grades 5-8 $650/class
      • 9:30-11:30 Exhibit Tour & Mutant Organisms
      • 11:30-12:00 Lunch
      • 12:00-2:00 DNA Extraction & Better Milk for Cats
      DNA Basics Grades 5-8 $650/class
      • 9:30-11:30 Exhibit Tour & DNA Extraction
      • 11:30-12:00 Lunch
      • 12:00-2:00 Chromosome Splats (prepare and view human chromosomes with microscopes) & DNA Models (hands-on)
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