Monday, March 30, 2009

Its All In the Genes

"Its all in the genes!" What does this mean and how does it relate to our environment? These are the questions for this week. What is DNA? What does it look like? Is the DNA of bacteria the same as the DNA in my cells? In fact, what IS DNA? If you look it up in a textbook or on-line you find it stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid. WOW! That's a mouthful. Deoxy........ sounds like we are talking about one less oxygen. EXACTLY! Ribonucleic.....well, I guess it is some kind of 'ribo' that is in the nucleus. YOU GOT IT!! Acid?? Does that mean it is really an acid. YOU BETCHA ! In fact, DNA is a molecule, a really big molecule, that is made up of a sugar (ribose), and some nitrogen parts and all tied together into a twisted double ladder. We call it a double helix. A helix is a twisted, corkscrew-like figure. Check out the image to see what a DNA drawing looks like.

So what are we going to do with DNA? We are going to extract it. We are going to pull it out of the cell. What cells? Different kinds. We can get it from strawberries. We can get it from our own cells. It really won't matter. It is still DNA.
Here is the "Question of the Week." --> how does DNA relate to Chromosomes?
How do chromosomes relate to cells? (Big prizes for the best answer in class.)

We are going to be real forensic lab experts too. We will learn how to use some of the tools of DNA science--> the Automatic Micropipette, and the Gel Electrophoresis apparatus. WHAT?
We said DNA is a large molecule, but it is still a molecule and we need only very small amounts of it to study it. Once we "see" DNA we need to separate it. That is what we are doing in the ELC lab in Week Five.
Finally, we are going to do an microbiological environmental survey of the area around us.

Check out the Porter Explorers Wikisite for new pictures of the Porter explorers at work.

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