Bold philanthropy is at work for IHHS science students. The Science Department received an IHF Innovation Grant to provide gel electrophoresis equipment this year. This allows student designed experimentation and real-time study of DNA samples.
DNA bands in an experiment.
In Mrs. Imrie's Genetics class, the students worked in small groups and then came together to form large groups. They first used a family's pedigree to observe patterns and make predictions about the inheritance of Huntington's Disease. They then added molecular data to fill in holes in the pedigree and discuss possible inheritance patterns. On the second day students worked in groups to run a gel electrophoresis on a couple in the most recent generation to determine possible offspring. They then used the data from the previous day to estimate if offspring would have Huntington's Disease and when the likely onset of symptoms would be.
In Mr. Broxterman's AP Biology, students investigated and designed an experiment using gel electrophoresis in a discovery process based on a real world Shigella outbreak in the year 2000 (a food-borne outbreak mainly on the west coast). Students were able to identify possible sources and compare DNA samples to identify the exact origin. With the equipment provided by the foundation, we were able to run gels at each lab station, watch the separation in real time, and have very clear and visible results.
The gel electrophoresis equipment is also being used in AP Environmental Science and Forensics classes. Bringing this innovation into the classroom is directly impacting the student learning experience for so many.
Students were very impressed with the quality of the equipment, very excited to make their own gels in a short time frame, and were thrilled to make time-lapse videos from the separation process. One student remarked, "I'm amazed that the DNA bands are so visible." Another student said, "The process in person is 100% better than watching a video. Our involvement in the real world based investigation made the process easier to understand."
Thanks to IHHS Science teacher David Broxterman for this summary.