BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The University at Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute teamed up to welcome nearly 400 eighth graders from Buffalo Public Schools to participate in Genome Day. It was part of a month-long series of events celebrating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields to inspire and encourage local students to think about pursuing career opportunities here in Buffalo. Today they learned about DNA and genomics.

They got to extract their own DNA from their cheek cells and take it home in a necklace. To do this, they worked with UB students, faculty, and staff, and learned about what they do in their careers and their jobs, and what it takes to become a scientist.

It’s important at this age to get students out of the classroom setting for some more hands-on real world experience. This is most successfully done with a bit of fun.

Genomics is something important educate in general, as it’s good real world knowledge to have.

“Sometimes you’re sent for genetic testing, whether it’s to diagnose a disease, or determine the proper most efficient course of treatment for that disease.” explains Sandra Small, the Integrated Science Education Manager at the New York State Center of Excellence Bioinformatics & Life Sciences. “people hear these terms, but not everyone really understands what it means, so we need to increase the literacy in our community”