January 04, 2013 at 18:14 PM EST
Fourth graders delve into DNA
Fourth graders at Earl Warren Elementary School, a Title 1 school located in an economically depressed area of Lake Elsinore, Calif., recently conducted molecular biology research and learned how to extract DNA from split peas using common household items. The children's project was sponsored by Larry Simpson, UCLA professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics. Simpson's research focuses on the mechanism of a novel genetic phenomenon that occurs in the mitochondria of trypanosome parasites, the causal agents of a number of important tropical diseases. Each student who participated kept a laboratory notebook and took home a certificate of achievement. "For one day, they were all molecular biologists, doing research for Dr. Simpson at UCLA," said Irene Trovato, a microbiologist and parent who taught the students how to extract DNA. "They took this role very seriously!"
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