NYC Urban Barcode Project

The Urban Barcode Project (UBP) is a science competition spanning the five boroughs of New York City. Just as a unique pattern of bars in a universal product code (UPC) identifies each item for sale in a store, a DNA barcode is a DNA sequence that uniquely identifies each species of living thing. In the Urban Barcode Project, student research teams use DNA barcoding to explore biodiversity in New York City, including:

  • Sampling biodiversity in a park, garden, office, or school.
  • Checking for invasive plant or animal species. Monitoring animal movements or migrations.
  • Identifying exotic or endangered food products in markets.
  • Detecting food or product fraud.

The competition is open to NY metropolitan area high school students enrolled in grades 9–12. Teams of two to four students work with a teacher sponsor to submit a project proposal for a fall deadline. Proposals are judged for originality, creativity, relevance, plausibility, and scientific merit. The top teams are invited to compete in the Urban Barcode Project. Teams must complete their projects by the spring and present their work at a project symposium.

Sponsoring teachers must participate in a DNA barcoding training session). Each successful team has free access to everything needed for their DNA barcode experiments, including equipment, protocols, and reagents. Equipment footlockers are available for use by individual schools or for groups of nearby schools to share. Teams may work on their projects at summer workshops and Open Lab days at designated locations.

Visit the Urban Barcode Poject website for more information.

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