OSWEGO, NY – DNA testing isn’t just for those who watch “CSI” television programs, but is also alive at Oswego Middle School.
Recently, OMS seventh south students received a unique opportunity as they were involved in a day long DNA Fingerprinting Lab with a Cornell University professor Dr. Mike Darwin Yerkey, PhD.
Teacher Catherine Celeste said, “This was a wonderful opportunity for students to use equipment to extract real DNA, cut it up and run it through an electric current to determine results.”
Yerky brought $10,000 worth of gel electrophoresis equipment for the students to determine paternity in two separate cases.
Celeste said, “Students transferred DNA samples from the mom, baby and suspected father using micropipettes. Then they added extensive restriction enzymes to cut the DNA.”
Continuing she explained, “Samples were injected into the depressions or wells of the gel that students created from a sugar found in seaweed….agarose.”
The gel electrophoresis machine separates DNA based on its size.
Celeste said, “Because DNA is negatively charged it is pulled toward the positive end of the gel and smaller pieces travel faster. Each person, unless you are an identical twin, will have a unique DNA pattern.”
The students discovered that to determine paternity, students simply needed to match one band of the baby’s DNA with its mother and if the other band matched the suspected father, paternity is established.
Celeste explained,” While the equipment and DNA samples were real, the DNA was from salmon which is easily obtained from a fish hatchery.”
It was noted that students were able to create DNA necklaces to bring home as DNA sample were spooled to make them visible.
Oswego Middle School students who were afforded this opportunity had to have a science grade of 90% or higher for the first five weeks of the second quarter.
Celeste noted, “All of the students on the Seven South team were able to practice with the $200 micropipettes the day prior to the actual testing.”
It was noted that this opportunity was granted to students because Celeste, their science teacher, attended the Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers for the past 13 years.
Participation in this conference allows Celeste to order other kits from Cornell and have the equipment and kits mailed free of charge.
She noted, “I take full advantage of this opportunity as it greatly benefits the students of Oswego Middle School Seven South.”