How would you extract DNA?!?

Developing protocols for experiments challenges students’ understanding and engages their curiosity. After attending the Science of Food and Fuel workshop, sponsored by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, last summer, Jay Swiecki gave his students at New Miami Valley High School this opportunity in a DNA extraction lab as part of a unit on cells.

Swiecki talks about the process:

The lab went well. In preparation, I printed off the item cards that came with the lab and then laminated them for future labs. I have two smaller classes which made it easier for students to use the materials available such as a blender, meat tenderizer, etc.

With my larger class, we had to resort to alternative methods like smashing the corn in a bag rather than using a blender. I included strawberries in this lab as another possible source of DNA.

Some of the groups struggled with coming up with a protocol. I had to give hints to move them in the right direction or allow them to talk with other groups to see what worked and what didn’t work.

I would like to revisit this lab and possibly one looking at DNA in bacteria later in the year when we cover genetics in greater detail. I will have students review their previous protocols and try to find the one that worked best.

The students enjoyed doing the lab and were excited to actually see some DNA. About 95% of the students kept their DNA to take home to show friends and family. I believe that this will be one of the labs that they remember long after they have graduated from high school. Thank you for supplying me with the materials I needed to make this lab a success.