Buffalo students learn about genetics and take home their own DNA in necklaces

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Hundreds of 8th graders in the City of Buffalo are a little more excited about studying science, after a special lesson at the UB Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The students learned how to extract their DNA, and more about their own genetics. 

They started with a gurgle. 

The students spit into cups, and then added soap to their saliva to break up their cheek cells, exposing their DNA. After a few more steps, they were able to extract their DNA and put it in a vial, hanging from a necklace. 

“I was surprised by the color, and how much DNA was in my siliva,” Ava Ridout said, a student at Tapestry Charter School. “It was really cool.”

The teachers were students themselves. All of them are enrolled in the UB School of Medicine. 

“It’s fun to teach science to kids because you forget how new it used to be,” Abigail Cornwell said, a PHD student studying pharmacology. 

Cornwell also explained to the students what careers are available to them if they’re interested in studying DNA. 

This was the fifth year 8th graders have been invited here for Genome Day. 

“What’s wonderful, is they come into this building and they see state-of-the-art facilities, they meet students who are just a few years older than they are, and it’s a really great opportunity for them to see where an education can take you… particularly an education in science,” Norma Nowak said, the NYS Center of Excellence and Bioinformatics & Life Sciences executive director.

As a momento, the students were able to take the necklaces home. Theoretically, the DNA should last forever. 

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