High School Field Trips

In 1988 the DNALC began offering DNA manipulation labs to high school students during the academic year. Lab field trips on DNA restriction and transformation supported the rapid implementation of these experiments in AP Biology classes on Long Island. The DNALC has also helped teachers implement PCR-based experiments to examine human DNA polymorphisms.

Bacterial Transformation

This experiment illustrates the direct link between an organism's genetic complement (genotype) and its observable characteristics (phenotype). Students introduce a gene for antibiotic resistance into the bacterium E. coli. Following overnight incubation, transformed bacteria are compared to unexposed bacteria for their ability to grow in the presence of ampicillin.

DNA Restriction Analysis

This experiment demonstrates that DNA can be precisely manipulated and that it behaves as predicted by the Watson-Crick structure. Students use restriction enzymes, the scissors of molecular biologists, to cut DNA from the bacteriophage lambda. The resulting DNA fragments are analyzed by agarose gel electrophoresis. Photographs of students' results are posted on the DNALC Internet site.

Human DNA Fingerprinting* using Agarose Gel Electrophoresis Analysis

This experiment examines DNA polymorphisms that are the basis of forensic DNA fingerprinting and genetic diagnosis. Students prepare a sample of their own DNA from cells obtained by saline mouthwash. The automated technique of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used to amplify polymorphic DNA fragments. Staff amplify and electrophorese the DNA samples during the laboratory, and post class results on this site here.

Human Mitochondrial Sequencing*

This lab examines Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in the human mitochondrial genome. Students amplify a small region of their own mitochondrial DNA by PCR and use the product as a template for DNA cycle sequencing. The students obtain their "finished" sequence through the DNALC Internet site. Computer analysis of the data is performed at school using the DNALC's bioinformatics tool "Sequence Server."

Forensic DNA Profiling*

This lab examines a highly variable tandem repeat polymorphism, like the ones used by the FBI for DNA fingerprinting. The improved size resolution of the DNA chip allows students to identify their genotype, something impossible with agarose gel electrophoresis. Students prepare a sample of their own DNA from cells obtained by saline mouthwash. The automated technique of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used to amplify polymorphic DNA fragments and then the samples are loaded into DNA chip analyzers.

Human Family Tree

Tour the Ötzi the Iceman and ancient human replicas in our museum, then go to the lab and explore the fossil record to investigate the evolutionary relationships among early human ancestors. Using skull casts, students examine a series of traits to determine whether each is phenotypically archaic or modern. Phylogenetic trees are built using compiled class results.

  • Lab time: 3 hours
  • Grades: 9 and above
  • CSH location only

*Participation in this laboratory requires a signed consent form (provided by the DNALC) from the parent/guardian of each student under 18 years of age.

Reservation Details

  • Forensic DNA Profiling, Human DNA Fingerprinting and Human Mitochondrial Sequencing are restricted to students in 10th, 11th, or 12th grade.
  • Each Curriculum Study member school is entitled to 4 reservations. Non-Curriculum Study schools are limited to 2 reservations.
  • The cost is $25 per student regardless of lab; there is a minimum charge of $500, regardless of lab.
  • Unless other arrangements have been made in advance, all labs begin promptly at 9:30 AM. Any group that arrives more than 30 minutes late for their scheduled lab will risk forfeiting the reservation.
  • Before the visit, teachers will receive an information package to help with student preparation.
  • Classes canceled less than one month prior to the scheduled date will not be permitted additional lab visits.
  • To make a reservation please find contact information on the Field Trip Reservation page.