- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 6, 2016

LOGANSPORT, Ind. (AP) - For Logansport fifth-graders, a strawberry is much more than a sweet snack - it’s science.

Over the past two weeks, students in Logansport’s Ivy Tech Community College’s Phi Theta Kappa honors society have been teaching local fifth-graders about DNA and how food has changed over time. They visited all four elementary schools for the two-part lesson.

Ivy Tech students spent time at Franklin Elementary School on Nov. 29 to conduct a DNA extraction experiment with students. The fifth-graders were tasked with smashing up a strawberry and figuring out how to find the many strands of DNA inside.

Kyle Roland, 11, said he didn’t know much about DNA before the lessons from Ivy Tech. He found out its mainly found in the cell nucleus of all living organisms, such as plants, animals and humans. Carter Sparks, 11, said DNA looks like a spiral staircase.

“We learned about genes that we inherit from our parents,” Carter added.

Instead of finding DNA from humans, the students used strawberries, which they can extract and isolate within a matter of minutes due to it yielding more than DNA than other fruits.

After first smashing the strawberry, the students added a buffer solution to it comprised of salt and hand soap. Once that’s mixed, they poured the fruit mixture through a strainer to collect liquid in a test tube. Ivy Tech students then added isopropyl alcohol in the tube and the kids stirred the liquid to find the DNA.

The DNA stuck to the sides of the stirring rod and some strands were visible in the solution. Ten-year-old Aspen Cozzello said the DNA felt slimy.

Carrie Sherer, president of Beta Gamma Zeta, the Ivy Tech-Logansport campus chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, said the honors society has worked with students in the schools for a few years now, focusing on science experiments for the group’s Honors in Action project. Sherer said the partnership is important in keeping up good rapport between the college and area schools.

“The kids seem to like it and we love going in and teaching the kids,” Sherer said. “It’s a one-on-one, win-win situation.”

The theme for this year’s project is natural and engineered, she said. They decided to focus on the contrast of food in a natural state and how it has become engineered through genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Taylor Wylie, 11, said fruits, such as watermelons and bananas, looked differently 600 years ago.

Sherer said fifth grade is the perfect age to deepen students’ understanding of science since their minds are more developed. She also said the project sheds light on possibilities after school.

“It opens that communication for them to come to college and see some of the stuff that students from Ivy Tech are doing and that they can do that if that’s something that they like,” she said.

Sherer added she most enjoys seeing the reactions of kids embracing the lesson and experiment.

“When they can explain back what you’ve just taught them,” she said, “then that means that it’s satisfying to me to know that I’ve taught them something.”


Source: (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune, https://bit.ly/2gZrjva


Information from: Pharos-Tribune, https://www.pharostribune.com

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