The biology of learning
On Dec. 2, the Lake Park Audubon College Biology class traveled to Fergus Falls. The 10 high school students, and their teacher, Rochelle Becker, were invited down by Minnesota State Professor Jessica Daniels to join students on campus in conduct...
On Dec. 2, the Lake Park Audubon College Biology class traveled to Fergus Falls.
The 10 high school students, and their teacher, Rochelle Becker, were invited down by Minnesota State Professor Jessica Daniels to join students on campus in conducting two labs.
The students took part in one activity that involved studying human pedigrees to learn more about genetics. Human genetics can be more difficult to study than animal or plant genetics due to the fact that humans have fewer offspring and long generation times. The students looked at how various genetic conditions had been passed through a family and learned more about dominant, recessive, and gender-linked traits.
The second lab that the students participated in was DNA fingerprinting. The students were given four DNA samples. One sample was from a theoretical crime scene and the other three samples came from potential suspects in the crime.
The students learned how forensic scientists are able to differentiate between individual’s DNA using a technique called gel electrophoresis.
In order to conduct gel electrophoresis, the DNA samples are all cut by proteins called restriction enzymes. Because everyone’s DNA is unique, the cut DNA pieces are various lengths. These lengths of DNA are then loaded into a gel. The gel separates the lengths of DNA when an electric current is applied.
This happens because the small DNA pieces are able to travel faster through the gel than the longer pieces. After the DNA has been separated the gel is placed on a light box and the pattern of the DNA bands is observed. Students were able to see that one of the suspect’s DNA did indeed match that found at the crime scene.
Students enrolled in College Biology at Lake Park Audubon High School are able to earn both high school and college credits concurrently. If they pass both College Biology I and II they earn a total of eight biology credits.
Students receive most of their instruction at the high school, but opportunities like this allow the students to interact with other college students and professors and use science equipment not available at the high school.
The college biology students enjoyed taking part in these labs and learned a lot more about genetics, DNA fingerprinting, and courses available to them after high school.