Examining DNA

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Rocky Point Middle School sixth-graders are working on cutting-edge, groundbreaking scientific research through the school’s GATES program.
As part of a DNA extraction and analysis procedure, the students are studying the DNA sequence of a specific gene of the Allegheny ants located in the Rocky Point Pine Barrens behind the school. With the help of Dr. Aleida Perez and Amanda Horn from Brookhaven National Laboratory, students are looking for bacterial DNA that may be associated with the ants.  

Working in groups, the students collected ant samples and extracted their DNA after they were frozen by BNL. They then worked to complete a polymerase chain reaction, whereby they amplified the DNA to create additional strands. After conducting gel electrophoresis, the students will analyze the samples and make note of the results.

This year’s GATES students are following in the footsteps of those from last year, who first looked at the ants’ DNA and submitted data to a national gene bank. This year’s students will once again submit their data to the scientific community and present on their project at BNL’s Open Space Stewardship Celebration in June.