Last March, our class went to the Dolan DNA Learning Center in Cold Spring Harbor. It was very interesting and there were a lot of fun things to do.
Before we started anything, the group leaders talked to us about DNA and how it works. I learned a lot of new things about DNA and think that it is a very interesting thing.
Next, we got partners and started an experiment. We sat down at a table and saw some materials in front of us. There was wheat in a test tube, and then we added different things into the test tube with it. Then we shook it and a little while later, we started to see this white foam rising toward the top of the test tube. It was so cool, and I was amazed by it. We started with a small bit of brown powder and it transformed into something very different. When we had finished the experiment, we were told exciting news. We could take the DNA home. We were given small containers with ethanol in it and we put some of the foam into the container.
After that, we went to our next activity. There we learned about the mystery of Anastasia Romanov. In the early 20th century, the Romanov family and some of their servants were kidnapped and supposedly executed by soldiers during a revolution. This was a big deal because they were the royal family of Russia. Then, years later, someone came forward claiming to be Anastasia Romanov, the youngest daughter of the family. Many people didn’t know what to think because although this woman looked very much like Anastasia and had very similar features, this was years later and Anastasia was thought to be dead. Since there was no definitive proof of this being Anastasia, the woman was called Anna Anderson.
We did many activities trying to solve the mystery. One activity we did was we compared the handwriting of Anna and Anastasia. Then something big happened in the story of Anastasia. A grave was discovered of the Romanov family. We analyzed the DNA of Prince Philip, who is related to the Romanovs, and we also did an activity to identify the people in the grave, and found out that two people had to be missing, but I won’t share who was missing or if the DNA matched because that would ruin the secret. If you want to know how the case ended, go to www.dnai.org.
I recommend this place to anyone interested in DNA, and you can even go there on Saturdays during the school year for a small fee. Sixth- to 12th-graders can also go to a five-day summer camp there. The Dolan DNA learning Center is an amazing place. I loved it and I’m sure you will, too.
Info: 334 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor, 516-367-5170, dnalc.org
Michelle Healy’s Enterprise students, Centre Avenue School, East Rockaway