Local high school students are performing DNA Sequencing, a procedure that is usually only done in professional laboratories and universities.
High School Juniors in the Biotechnology cluster of the TechMagnet Program are given the opportunity to sequence Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA). These students commute to a separate school, the Applications and Research Laboratory, which has special facilities, which can accommodate such advanced laboratory procedures. River Hill and Long Reach High school students ran a polymerization gel to derive the sequence of DNA sequence from a strain of E.Coli bacteria.
Students in the Biotechnology Junior Practicum class were the first to perform this procedure by students not in college. One River Hill junior says, "Three years ago, when I entered the Tech magnet program, I had no idea that I would be working with advances in technology such as DNA sequencing." DNA sequencing, although having existed for quite some time, has come under the public eye only recently after the advent of the Human Genome Project.
Although the students did not have all the same technologies the Human Genome Project, they were able to do it using older methods. Another River Hill High School student said, Its really cool to know that as high school students, we're doing experiments that are usually only done by college students with degrees.; These students utilized the Sanger Method, also known as the Chain Termination Method, to sequence DNA.
How It Works: As you may recall from your High School Biology Class, DNA is composed of four bases, Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine, and Guanine (or A, T, C, G, respectively). These bases make up the sequence to DNA, and essentially is the code that makes us who, and what we are.
The Chain Termination method exploits the use of the Polymerase Enzyme. Polymerase is the enzyme that exists in all of us that copies our DNA. When a special nucleotide, called a dideoxynucleotriphosphate(ddNTP), is present, the Polymerase randomly stops copying, and a fragment is left. The catch is that for each base, there is a corresponding ddNTP, and only if the base would normally go there, the ddNTP stops copying. In the Chain Termination method, there is a large amount of the same DNA is broken up into four smaller groups, one for each base. Then the appropriate ddNTP is added, and the polymerase is allowed to start copying. In the end, there are different sized fragments in each of the groups, all of which end in the corresponding base. Then these fragments are run on a Jello-like substance called apoly-acrylamide gel. 'Running' the gel separates the different fragment sizes on the gel. From this, students can derive the sequence of DNA.
Biotechnology is a large and rapidly growing field. As it progresses, there is an increase in demand for students who can continue with research. Now River Hill, and Long Reach High School are bringing the same procedures to high school students. These students are given a rare opportunity as high school students to do such research. Biotechnology is the thing of the future, and we have started training the next generation at an earlier age. Next year, these high school students will be taking internships at many local companies and organizations, bringing their valuable, already learned skills with them.
Written by the Authors of this site.