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Dissecting DNA

Dissecting DNA GCSU outreach students aid GMC cadets in bringing hands-on science to the classroom Jonathan Jackson The Union-Recorder Ninth-grade students at Georgia Military College Prep School worked alongside Georgia College science students to isolate their own DNA Tuesday morning. The Georgia College & State University Academic Outreach program has a long record of offering on-site support and education for students in surrounding schools and counties. Director of Academic Outreach Ruth Eilers said that Tuesday’s trip to GMC was part of a busy schedule that keeps the outreach team moving. “Every week is busy,” Eilers said, “and this lab has received the best feedback from students.” The academic outreach team visited the ninth-grade biology classes at GMC Prep, taught by Maj. Leigh Scott, and helped the class understand the procedures involved in the isolation of DNA. “They are swishing Gatorade in their mouths for a full minute,” Scott said. “Then they will add yellow liquid soap to the vials of swished Gatorade. That will help break down the cell membrane so the DNA in the nucleus can be accessed.” From there, the students added alcohol to the mix and observed as white strands, containing their genetic material, were distinguishable in their vials. The students went on to construct models of DNA and watched as a member from the outreach team twisted the model into the recognizable DNA double-helix. The four ninth-grade classes, with 16 to 17 students each, are taking biology this year as the school transitions them to a different high school track. “Most of what we do is hands-on science,” Eilers said of the experiment. Scott, along with former student and now student teacher Stephanie Westmoreland, assisted the students and answered questions during the lab. “It is a great thing to have this college program in place for these students,” Scott said.