CCHS students search for DNA

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, September 19, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

What do strawberries, dish soap and saliva have in common?

Each was a key component in helping Chilton County High School students extract DNA strains during a recent biomedical class.

Students mixed strawberries and dish soap to help separate a DNA strain. Later they swished salt water and put it in a test tube with dish soap hoping to separate a strain on their own DNA. One student used Gatorade instead of saltwater to see if the DNA would stay more intact. Diaz said it was challenging to get everything to work correctly. Student Josh Daw said he enjoyed watching the reaction as the DNA strands became visible. Each student answers assessment questions about the lab.

Several students said they enjoyed the hands-on, lab approach to the class.

Student Danna Diaz said none of her previous classes have used this approach, and she is enjoying it.

Daw agreed.

“It’s a lot more hands-on then all of my previous science classes,” Daw said. “He’s [teacher Bruce Saunders] focused a lot more on getting what you need and getting finished versus just giving you a sheet of paper and standing over your shoulder.”

Daw said the class is helping him in his nursing classes at LeCroy Career Technical Center. Daw wants to have a career in prosthetics.

For Diaz and Grace Tuell, the class is helping them prepare for future classes and their nursing careers.

For each lab, instructions are at each table and Saunders gives specific tips along the way. Students work in groups to follow the steps of the instructions to finish the assignment.

“I really enjoy how small it is. It’s not a large class size,” Tuell said.

The class size allows students to complete the experiments and have more individualized attention.

Daw said he enjoys the freedom of the class.

“He will let us do it, and he will let us make mistakes, so we can learn from that,” Daw said.

Most of the students are juniors or seniors and are also taking anatomy and physiology this semester. Teacher Bruce Saudners said taking the classes at the same time helps students understand how the subjects relate to one another.

Saunders said the course is a good preparation for the students for college because it allows them to get familiar with biomedical equipment

Tuell said the class is fast paced with all the material that is presented.

These students want to go into medical-related fields or engineering of some kind.

This is the first year for a biomedical course offered at CCHS and it is the only one right now.

“I love anything that gets students hands-on I think labs are more important than anything else in this time and day,” Saunders said.

The small class size allows students to learn from mistakes. Saunders said there is enough equipment for them to try again if there is enough time.

The CCHS biomedical class in built around trying to answer the question why a character died based on evidence at the scene. Diaz said the class has looked at footprints and blood types, prior to studying DNA.

The class is one of the new Project Lead the Way classes offered this year.