9th Graders Solve a Crime on BU’s City Lab

Emma Schiller '17

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If you have watched CSI, or other crime shows, you would know that solving a mystery involves using the criminal’s DNA. Here at Montrose, we actually utilized the DNA of a bacterial phage to compare it to other “suspect” DNA through DNA fingerprinting.

The 9th grade began the  adventure by practicing DNA base pair sorting on paper in the classroom, which we completed in the Boston University City Lab truck in the Montrose parking lot. The ninth grade class was instructed in depth on this topic prior to the lab, so they understood the steps to solving the criminal.

The lab consisted of mixing enzymes and other materials, such as dye, in the suspect DNA. Students then put the DNA through many processes and integrated into gel the students made. Next, we put the gel in a liquid buffer with an electrical charge. The negative charge was on the side with the wells filled with suspect one, suspect two, and the criminals mixture. The solutions ran towards the positive charge and were put under a blue light. The blue light revealed the DNA base patterns, and the suspect’s DNA identical to the crime DNA proved who the criminal was.

Many of the ninth grade found interest in this lab because they got to do what real scientists do in actual labs. It was an educational and interesting experience that the 9th grade enjoyed.

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