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Classroom Spotlight: Biology

The sciences at St. Ambrose Academy are filled with rich classical methods, experiments, and tons of connections being made as students explore the world around us through the junior high curriculum and senior high curriculum!

Recently, Dr. Denise Ludvik guided Biology students in a cool experiment to isolate the DNA from their cheek cells! Here’s a glimpse inside the classroom with the fun morning from Dr. Ludvik’s Biology classes – and click the photo links in the gallery below to see more!

“DNA is one of the macromolecules discussed in class. Its function is that it contains the instructions for building proteins, the main building blocks of cells. If you think of it like a house, the DNA is the blueprints and the instruction manuals and the proteins are your furniture, appliances, windows/doors, fixtures, decor, etc.

To isolate DNA, students needed to think about the parts of the cell we discussed in class that would need to be broken through the access the DNA. This would be the cell membrane and nuclear envelope, which are both made of phospholipids. Lipids, which include fats and oils, can be broken down with soap (think about doing the dishes!).

To extract DNA, students first had to use a salt solution and swish it in their mouths to collect their cheek cells. The salt helps the DNA clump together when it is extracted, but it is not tasty! This was simultaneously the most exciting and most hated step of the process.

Afterward, they added soap to break open the cell membranes and release the DNA. Finally, they added a layer of isopropanol. DNA will precipitate in alcohol and clumps of DNA strands could be seen forming in the isopropanol. Depending on how well the students collected their cells and how carefully the steps were performed, students saw varying amounts of DNA in their tubes.”

This is just one of the many fun, hands-on experiments and activities that St. Ambrose students experience to make their learning more engaging. Thanks to the Biology students for all of their eager participation and to Dr. Ludvik for giving the study of biology a personal twist! (Get it? Twist? DNA? 😉)

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