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Berry Hill Students Discover DNA

Students experiment through hands-on activities offered at the DNA Learning Center of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Credit: Syosset School District
Credit: Syosset School District

Fifth-graders at Berry Hill Elementary School in Syosset examined different mutations in fruit flies on Dec. 10 during one component of a series of specialized hands-on activities offered through the DNA Learning Center of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. 

The interactive learning program, which features four lessons on DNA, teaches young students about DNA and cells in an interactive learning environment that enhances the regular classroom curriculum. 

The activity required students to define a DNA mutation and investigate various examples. The fifth-graders were able to look at different mutations in fruit flies, noting any variables they saw while examining specimens through a microscope. CSHL genetics educator Elna Gottlieb spoke with the students about the different possibilities for mutations and their causes and effects. 

Students also participated in two in-school lessons that emphasized DNA learning, including the construction of a “baggie cell” model and DNA model out of Popsicle sticks and masking tape. For the last part of the learning series, students traveled to CSHL to complete a DNA extraction and solve a crime with the use of a computer-based model called Anastasia.

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