Last year was the first DNA Day Memphis where St. Jude postdocs, outreach staff, and Rhodes College undergraduates went to Bellevue Middle School and took over one teacher’s classes for the day, and did interactive activities. This year, with an army of almost 20, we took over the entire school!!!
Throughout the 16 different science classes, we extracted DNA, did a genetic wheel, and also some additional experiments to help the students on their upcoming TCAP standardized test. As always, the students were very receptive, loved the activities, and expressed a desire for us (scientists) to come into the schools more often. The look on their faces when they extracted their own DNA was priceless, and it led to some very interesting questions on ways scientist use DNA, how DNA affects cancer, and many more.
Of the people that went out as DNA Day Ambassadors, many of them expressed just as much joy in participating as the kids did in doing the experiments. This, and many other outreach opportunities are important. Not necessarily to make future scientist, but to make future science appreciators.