By Jennifer Fogarty, communications content manager
All you need is saliva to have your DNA tested from a variety of companies through the mail, but have you ever wondered how to extract DNA from a strawberry? Third graders in Lower School science teacher Dana Marquardt’s class extracted DNA from a strawberry using everyday items like dish detergent, coffee filters, table salt and some rubbing alcohol as part of the Global Doctors: DNA program.
The program is offered through Level Up Village, a company that delivers pioneering Global STEAM (STEM + arts) enrichment courses that promote design thinking and one-to-one collaboration between students in the United States and partner students in developing countries. LJCDS third graders are communicating with students from Ghana through video messages, sharing online profiles and collaboration documents. They’re learning about their partner’s country, culture and interests, as well as how their environment is different from San Diego. And of course, about DNA.
In addition to sharing personal thoughts like their favorite animal, what they want to be when they grow up, and where they would take their partner if they came to visit, the budding geneticists are also learning alongside their partners by delving into DNA and how diseases are activated. They are exploring the intersection between genetics, environment and their own health and discovering what they can do to become healthier, happier individuals. Experiments were conducted to learn about heart rate and exercise using ping-pong balls and foam, and double helixes were constructed out of licorice and gumdrops.
“It is such a joy watching my students receive a video from their partner in Ghana,” Mrs. Marquardt shares. “The excitement of hearing their name, the answers to their questions and seeing the environment of another school brings the students from miles away, right into our science lab. We’ve discussed the shared lessons on DNA, our local environment, and genetics, but the most important discovery is that we have so much in common! One of which is inquisitiveness and the desire to learn more.”
The global exchange allows students to work with people from very different backgrounds, and discover how similar we are as humans. Connections help form new perspectives and encourage empathy with students in another country.
See the videos below from one of the Ghana students and two of our LJCDS students.