In Keeley Lowery’s AP biology class the students are experimenting on themselves.
The class, composed of freshmen through seniors, is conducting a lab with students using their own DNA and it wouldn’t be possible without equipment the teacher purchased with a grant.
“It keeps them engaged,” Lowery said. “It exposes them to the biology that’s actually them.”
Lowery applied and received a grant from the Carroll Education Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to provide funding needs for items outside of the district’s budget.
The students worked on a lab to understand DNA sequencing and spent time extracting their DNA, copying it and then using enzymes to slice it up. Ultimately the students can identify if they have a specific gene.
Lowery purchased a thermal cycler and several centrifuges.
Carroll senior Lauren Sholtz guided her lab partners through the experiments. She had previously taken biology with Lowery, but didn’t use her own DNA. Students can get a more in depth experience using their DNA.
That extra layer of learning is what Lowedry was striving for when she purchased the equipment.
Lowery said without the equipment the class probably would have done the lesson on paper.
“Biology often covers concepts they can’t see,” she said. “They can see their DNA.”
As freshman Morgan Smith put her DNA sample into the newly-acquired centrifuge, she spoke about the benefit of working with her own DNA.
“It’s really cool,” she said. “We get to find out if we have a specific gene and what our genotype is.”
Lowery has won other grants for her classroom and has one goal in mind when applying.
“It’s about creating those memorable moments in biology,” she said.