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AP Bio Classes Visit
DNA Learning Center

It's just a hop, skip and jump to the Dolan DNA Learning Center in Cold Spring Harbor. Huntington High School AP Biology classes took advantage of the short distance to engage in full-day lab studies at the highly regarded facility.

Three AP Biology classes consisting of 79 students made the trek over a two-day period. While at the lab, the teenagers performed a pair of lab activities that required knowledge of parts of the AP Biology curriculum.

"Lab I was a DNA restriction analysis, which involved using gel electrophoresis to separate fragments of DNA cut by restriction enzymes," explained Deborah Beck, Huntington AP Biology teacher. "The students cut the viral DNA with two different restriction enzymes that cut in a unique pattern. They then were asked to use their results to identify an unknown. This lab technique is the basis for DNA fingerprinting which is used for a variety of applications including forensic analysis."

The second lab focused on bacterial transformation, which in layman's terms is a type of genetic engineering. "In this lab, a plasmid vector was used to introduce a new gene into bacteria," Mrs. Beck said.

The gene introduced into the bacteria was the green fluorescent protein gene that originates from a Pacific jellyfish. "Once the bacteria assimilate the gene they are able to produce the green fluorescent protein due to the universal DNA coding of all living things," Mrs. Beck said. "This type of engineering is useful since it can give bacteria the ability to produce a protein that is usually produced by a different species. One practical application of this engineering is the production of human insulin by bacteria to be used by people who are diabetic."

Huntington High School's AP Biology course has been the springboard into extensive science study for many students through the years. It continues to be a course prized by students, who never fail to sing the praises of Mrs. Beck.

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