Extracting DNA in Biology Quest

January 17, 2021

Our first Biology experiment using test tubes! YAY! The excitement was thick in the air today as the learners donned their lab coats and took their places at the science experiment table.

Since DNA is the blueprint for life, everything living contains DNA. We used green split peas, spinach, and strawberries for our DNA extraction experiment.
After blending, stirring, waiting, and stirring some more, the learners were finally able to see DNA appear in the test tubes. (the white stringy stuff). So what did the learners say about the experiment? Here it is in their own words:

Observations:
  • The strawberry one worked soooooo well! The DNA grabbed and it looked tasty, but you need not worry, I did not drink it.
  • The Split pea thing didn't have bubbles floating up, but the spinach thing did have bubbles floating up.
  • I noticed that the split peas did the best, and the spinach did the worst. 
  • The DNA sort of disappeared once we took it out of the test tubes and turned into salt (I think)
Findings:
  • The salt was what held the DNA together.
  • The spinach DNA had little pieces of green stuff in it. 
  • The DNA floated to the top.
Unanswered Questions:
  • Why was the spinach DNA so much different from the Split pea DNA? 
  • Why did the DNA disappear once we touched it or took it out of the test tube?
  • How do you take it out of the tube carefully in a way that keeps it intact?
More was learned than just separating and seeing DNA in the test tubes. Let me explain.
  1. Read lab directions; not just before starting the actual experiment, but also throughout the experiment. Those who hadn’t read the directions, were a little confused as to what they were supposed to be doing. Also, throughout the experiment, they referred back to the directions to see why their test tubes weren't looking like others' test tubes.
  2. Talk to your partner and work together. Who knows? Maybe your partner has a better idea as to how to add the rubbing alcohol.
  3. Have patience. Sometimes the liquid needed to sit a little longer than just 5 minutes like it said in the directions.
  4. Many hands make light work. When everyone helps to clean up, it goes quickly. Wait...they're already good at that one!

Hi, I'm James Van Duker.

I'm Founder and Head of School at Acton Academy Kingwood.

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