The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and the Education and Community Involvement Branch have created small-funding opportunities for groups to create National DNA Day programs in their community.
Our DNA Day award will allow us to develop and expand upon our very successful DNA Day partnership between the UCLA Genomic Analysis and Interpretation Graduate Training Program (GATP), and the neighboring Palms Magnet Middle School. Palms Middle School is a highly diverse public school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Under the leadership and guidance of Palms teacher Susannah Santana, students at the Palms Middle School have engaged in DNA Day activities for a number of years. In 2008, in collaboration with Ms. Santana, we inaugurated the UCLA DNA Day partnership between Palms Middle School and the UCLA GATP.
Each year, in the months preceding DNA Day, Palms Middle School students prepare for DNA Day by classroom studies on topics in genomics. On DNA Day a group of 60 to 70 Palms Middle School students visit the UCLA Human Genetics Department for DNA Day activities hosted by GATP graduate students and faculty. Activities include lectures, laboratory experiments, computer analysis, contests, and question and answer periods. After DNA Day the Palms Middle School student participants present the activities to their classmates who were unable to attend the UCLA visit. UCLA graduate students and faculty also make a visit to Palms Middle School after the DNA Day event, and speak to Palms students and their families about topics such as medical genetics, nutrigenomics, and careers in genomics.
Our DNA Day partnership is extremely rewarding for both the guests and the hosts. The middle school students participate in lectures and hands on learning activities, and the graduate students gain experience teaching, mentoring, and presenting their work. The greatest benefit to both groups is the enrichment they gain from interacting with each other. Without the DNA Day event, these two groups of students would rarely interact. Our DNA Day partnership allows us to positively impact and enrich the learning experience of two important groups of future genomic scientists, graduate students, and middle school students.
The Penn State Eberly College of Science Outreach Office in partnership with the Penn State Forensic Science Program has created the Exploring DNA with Penn State program to provide a range of DNA and genomics experiences for middle and high school students and teachers from three Pennsylvania school districts.
The theme of the Exploring DNA with Penn State program is biometrics with an emphasis on genetic principles, the genetics of inheritance, and population variation. Biometrics includes methods for identifying a person based on physical and/or behavioral traits. Such traits include fingerprints, voice recognition, and DNA profiles. This has major implications for law enforcement, national security, and identity authentication as well as many other fields.
Teachers and students participating in this program will learn about the biological methods for differentiation between individuals. Immersive, hands-on experiences will be developed for students and teachers to understand the research and technology related to fingerprints, retinal scans, bone radiographs and other ways scientists can differentiate between individuals and their own unique biological characteristics, with an emphasis on DNA. Students and teachers will be in the Penn State labs applying techniques to real-life questions and problems to gain a full understanding of the importance of research and practice in this field. The program will also focus on careers in the field of DNA and genomics. Students will learn about careers and educational preparation from Penn State faculty and staff in the fields of forensic science, medicine, engineering, applied science and agriculture.
Last Reviewed: November 8, 2012