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This summer I have a high school teacher working with me as an intern, because of an RET (Research Experience for Teachers) grant from the National Science Foundation. Yesterday, he told me a story about the science activity that really lit a fire in his class.

His 75 students used PCR to amplify DNA from their cheek cells. The Dolan DNA Learning Center, determined the DNA sequences of the samples. Then the students, using our Geospiza mitochondrial DNA tutorial as guide, did a blastn search through the NCBI with their own mitochondrial DNA sequences, to investigate their own ancestry. He said that he had never seen the kids so animated when discussing science. Looking at their own ancestry hooked his class on studying the history of human migrations and the discussion of “what is race?

I’m going to be writing about this subject more in days to come, but for the moment, I want to write about how this project came to be.

He told me that this project cost about $10 a kid, not including the $60 for shipping the samples, and costs for other things like pipettes, other equipment (that he borrowed), and checking the samples on a gel.

The only reason that he was able to do this experiment was because the foundation from his school voted, this year, to contribute the funds.

Who knows what will happen next year?

Wouldn’t it be great if kids, all across the country, could do this kind of science?

You have a chance to help.

You can help teachers turn kids on to doing science by helping to fund projects, like this, that teachers have proposed.

Today is the last day to click the Donor’s Choose button and help contribute to our campaign to raise money for science education. Those of you who teach know that it is wonderful to have funds that are committed to your project, and free from reallocation.


If you help now and contribute, even a small amount, you increase the chance that we have another fund-rasing drive in the future.

If you teach, be sure to submit a proposal to Donor’s Choose. Maybe your proposal can be part of the next round.

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