This semester a group of LBHS students are tackling Genetics in a class instructed by John McLaughlin, PhD, a science teacher at the high school. When you get a dozen scientists in the room, something is bound to happen and with these young people they are seizing the opportunity to take that step above from a high school class into the type of science research experience most often found in university labs. Since the mapping of the human genome and biotechnology industries using DNA have sprung up around the world, the class is not your Daddy’s Genetics course from college, either.
The purpose of the lab which used borrowed equipment from Virginia Tech, is to establish relationships through proteins of different fish and mollusk species by electorphoreis, a process that separates the genetic materials into dyed gels by isolating and comparing the different protein patterns.
Proteins form the muscle tissue of marine vertebrates and invertebrates are used to determine phylogenetic relationships. Sounds technical? Yes, it is. The experiment is in Science Teacher magazine in 2001 and was co- authored by McLaughlin who has a Phd from Virginia Tech.
By looking at the protein DNA relationships the common ancestry in the development of different species can be seen.
The students armed with cool goggles, aprons, gel plates and the electorphoreis “cooking” machines, fish proteins and buffering solution took turns preparing the experiment by the steps listed on the project sheet given to them by McLaughlin. Once the experiement components fell into place the machines bubbled away for 45 minutes. Welcome to the laboratory! One day later the gels were dyed with blue dye by the AP Biology class and the students will be able to see which of the five species they have derived proteins from are closest or farthest apart in genetic relationship. The species used were squid, tilapia, salmon, flounder and striper bass. For more pictures of the lab click here.
Those participapting in the lab were Rob Cary, Holly Harnsberger, Pahl Pappas, Kelly Crocker, Kelly McKnight, Emory Straub, Alexandra Stiles, Kayla Hanson, Emily Riley, Lexie Surface, Emily Adams and Zoe Graman.