Carnegie Mellon University

DNAZone at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh's Sunday Sampler

Week One: DNA Really "Shows Your True Colors"

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(Left) For the first activity, DNA extraction, two students mash up frozen strawberries. (Right) After adding a mixture of salt, dish soap, and water to the strawberries, the students filter the strawberries into a container. Genoa Warner, Chemistry graduate student, adds chilled rubbing alcohol to the filtered mixture.

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The students fish out the white, gooey strawberry DNA!

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To get a better idea of what the strawberry DNA looks like up close, the students use an interactive kit to put together a single strand of DNA. By using the kit's snaps, buttons, magnets and Velcro, the students learn how DNA is formed. This kit, developed by Chemistry graduate students Taylor Canady and Genoa Warner, teaches the students the fundamental structure and functions of DNA and RNA.

Week Two: The Science of Cooking

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(Left) Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Patty Opresko, explores the properties of water-loving and water-hating substances with students. Through various demonstrations of combining substances like water, salt, oil, soy lecithin and food coloring, students learn about what substances mix and what substances do not. (Middle) Students use what they learned about mixtures to make chocolate mousse from only two ingredients: a chocolate bar and a juicebox. Chemistry graduate student Danielle Chirdon helps the students. (Right) The students enjoy the mousse that they created!

Week Three: The Art of Science and Color

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Here, students are observing the composition of natural sunlight using spectroscopes that they constructed themselves. By viewing both artificial light and natural sunlight, students learn about the composition of light and the fundamental properties of light absorption.