Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings – DNA Extraction (Episode 2)


Thirteen kids came to a genetics
and genealogy summer camp to research themselves. Right down to their DNA
– deoxyribonucleic acid – “the blueprint of life”. But where do you find DNA? How do you get it? Turns out, it’s in nearly
every cell in your body. [Music] My goal is only to
light the fire. And that’s a fire of
the pursuit of learning. We really wanted to
target middle school kids because they are the
most impressionable, they are the ones who are trying
to make sense of the world. If you give kids space
and resources and time – to dig into the things that captivate them
most, then they’ll soar! It’s exciting to learn how
to find your ancestors. And if you master those
skills, you can use those skills to study just about anything. What we’re going to do now
is going to be fascinating. We are going to extract
actual DNA! That’s – I got a bunch of
WHHAAA just now, right? Now why did you make that face? Because normally when you
extract DNA you extract it from people or animals and DNA
is in your blood so you have to get through the skin and into
a vein to extract the blood. Beautiful! But it turns out you
don’t really need that! With some basic chemistry-
we can actually extract DNA from cells – from our cells! It’s actually not that hard! Yeah, we’re going
to actually see it. We are going to see DNA. And not only are we going to see
DNA, we’re going to see yours! First we had this little
cup filled with saltwater and we had to put
it all in our mouth. And swish really vigorously
to get cheek cells. All right everybody,
take their cup. And then we’re going
to go for 60 seconds! All right, count
of three – One.. Two.. Three! Vigorously swish! Vigorously! Vigorously! (laughter & swishing sounds) It was really hard because we
were all laughing, like, a lot. Don’t look at me, I’ll
make you guys laugh. Really, the better you do it
the more cheek cells you get! (Campers swishing saline
solution and laughing) (phone claxon sounds) Oh God! Ew! All right, number 4. Got one here. Write that number down! Carefully pour it in the tube
and hold it, just hold it! There you go! Sharing! That’s a lot! Ach! Smells really bad! When you have something
negative, what do you need to kind of be able to really
make this stuff visible? They bond to something… positive – okay? So, basically, the salt is going
to be able to really really bind to the DNA so that
we can see it. So this kind of is
going to allow us to visualize it a
little bit later, okay? We had to pour some
soap in the test tubes. The soap makes it so the
cheek cells come apart. One, two, three! two… three… all right you guys
are on your own. The soap breaks open the
cells and the cell nuclei by destroying its membranes. Releasing the DNA into solution. And once we shook it,
mentors went around and poured rubbing
alcohol around the rim. Human DNA is hard to see. A million strands can
fit into the period on the end of a sentence. But in this experiment
– because there are so many strands clumped together
– they suddenly become visible. It was like a separate layer
that your DNA strands were in. And you could see the DNA
strands and it was really cool, cuz you could see them,
like, twirling around. I want them to see that there
is a physical tangible nature to the very ethereal DNA idea. I want kids to look at it and be
like “this is part of who I am”! It gets cloudy – that’s
the DNA condensing! Oh, that’s so cool! You’re good to go! You have a string float- Look
at that string floating around! see that white cloudy substance? Guess what that is? DNA? Yeah! Okay. And not just any DNA – yours! Cool! That’s cool. All right? It kind of is! The way we set up this
DNA extraction is, for the first round, everybody
does it step by step together. Pausing to make sense
of why are we rinsing in saline and not water? Why are we using soap? What’s the point of that? Why ethanol? To get kids thinking
about these decisions that we make aren’t accidental,
but they’re not absolute! Like, perhaps they
could be modified. Challenge it! Do something different! Wait, here’s a question. Would it differ if
like – would it differ if you used a different alcohol? That’s a good question! Maybe we can investigate that! You can try that, right? This extraction with a bunch
of different types of alcohol – there’s a type of alcohol we
have called isopropyl alcohol and that’s an experiment to do! So keep that in mind when
it comes to your projects! Any other questions? We want kids on their first day
to realize that this is more about them and their
discovery and their curiosity than it is about being right! Every living thing on Earth
has DNA – so to prove it, the campers would use
the same procedure to extract DNA from
strawberries. You guys are so smart. I trust you now. Now we can follow the
instructions on our own? Right? Strawberries have more
copies of their chromosomes than humans do – humans
only have two copies and strawberries have eight! So get the air out of the bag! Now we’re going to mash it! We’re going to mash it, okay? There you go! (pounding fists) Oh perfect. Yeah, that’s better. Be very careful when
you’re doing this. There you go! Beautiful! Beautiful! AHH! There you go… like cake icing! How much do we have? How’s it looking? Like nothing. Whoa, yours is condensing
quickly! Do you see that? Yeah. That’s all DNA? One of the advantages
is showing them that living organisms have DNA. We share this in common. In fact, something like 70% of strawberry DNA is
represented in human DNA. Go show Professor O that. Professor O! I have so much DNA. Ohh! My gosh! I mashed mine a lot! WOW! It was pretty amazing. I had the first and
second most DNA! I want kids doing science
in community because I want to develop a sense of a
community of scientists. It’s all about collaboration
and communication and co-discussion
and co-sense-making. What did you do to
those poor strawberries? I mashed them up! Some people had very peculiar
methods for mashing them up! If you mashed them up less
do you think you would see less DNA? If you used a larger or smaller
strawberry do you think you would see more or less DNA? Maybe – right, right? That’s a hypothesis! We can test that! Using the same method! We can begin to think
about these things! [music] Why don’t you do it
one, two, three, four? So… twenty three.. I like bananas but… I love bananas! Zahra: I think that’s
enough kiwi. The campers have
witnessed their own DNA – That’s cool! but what does their
DNA say about them? What does it say
about their ancestors? Next time on Finding
Your Roots… The Seedlings. Kids love to study themselves. We can show you how to bring the
tools of “Finding Your Roots” into your afterschool program,
summer camp or classroom. Check out what happens when
kids study their own DNA and family history by
viewing our education programs and trying our research-based
curriculum materials. For more information,
visit us online.

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