Pre-College Programs
SPARK - Science for Middle School

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So You Want to be a Laboratory Scientist? - Junior SPARK

One Section Available to Choose From:

Course DatesWeeksMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRN
July 07, 2014 - July 18, 20142M-F 9A-12N and T,TH 1P-4PWaitlistedSue Azar10130

Course Description

Have you ever wondered what DNA looks like? Are you curious about what it is like in a laboratory, working to solve problems in the medical field? Have you ever wanted to solve a crime?

This course is designed to expose middle school students to basic laboratory research in the fields of biotechnology, microbiology, medicine, forensics and general laboratory techniques. Students will learn how to manipulate DNA, use PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and perform gel electrophoresis. Students will use various laboratory techniques to examine enzyme activity, and other biotechnology applications. In addition, students will explore various methods in microbiology, including evaluating antibiotics and their role in medicine. Other techniques may include crime solving techniques used by forensic scientists, protein isolation from DNA, techniques in cellular biology and disease detection. Students and the lab instructor will discuss how each of these techniques have impacted the field of medicine and scientific research. Field trips to several world-class research laboratories will also be part of this course, enabling students to see the techniques they have learned in action and explore other fields in science.

Students will perform ten laboratory investigations during the class. Students will become proficient in the measuring techniques and sterile techniques used in laboratory sciences. They will isolate and analyze DNA, isolate and identify proteins, use gel Electrophoresis, PCR, evaluate bacteria sensitivity to antibiotics and antiseptics, and use DNA analysis to test if foods have been genetically modified. In addition, they may use laboratory applications to solve a crime scene, simulate a disease outbreak and to test for the disease using antibodies. They will understand the background behind all of the experiments and be able to discuss the applications of these techniques in science.

Students are middle school students with varying backgrounds. There are no specific prerequisites, but students should enjoy math and science. Students should welcome, and be prepared for an intensive laboratory experience.

*This Junior SPARK course is designed for students, 12 years and older, who are currently in the 6th and 7th grades (entering 7th and 8th grades Fall 2014). Older students are encouraged to register for our Senior SPARK courses.