On Wednesday, February 2, Ma’ayanot’s AP Biology students visited the Dolan DNA Learning Center (DNALC) in Manhattan, where they had the opportunity to perform a DNA restriction analysis lab in a professional setting. Restriction enzymes are enzymes that cut DNA, the genetic material, at specific, predictable sites, functioning as a “molecular scissors.” The DNALC, which is an operating unit of the renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, is the world’s first science center devoted entirely to genetics education. With their teacher, Mrs. Esther Slomnicki, Ma’ayanot juniors and seniors used a technique called “Agarose gel electrophoresis,” which separates DNA fragments based on their size.
“It was exciting for the students to utilize techniques that are typically only found in college and research labs,” said Mrs. Slomnicki. “The lab that was performed served as a springboard for our discussion on many cutting edge practical applications, such as tracking the sources and spread of disease, producing genetically modified organisms, and confirming an identity in forensics cases.”