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Kidsday: DNA sheds light on a mystery

What if you could solve the mystery of a missing Russian princess? At the Cold Spring Harbor DNA lab (dnalc.org) that is possible. Our class got to check out bacterial DNA. Also we got to try to solve a mystery about an actual Russian princess. Her name was Anastasia. She and her family were supposed to be executed -- and they were. But when the remains were discovered in an unmarked grave in Siberia, there were two missing, those of a brother and sister. Could Anastasia have survived? That is what scientists asked themselves when a woman woke up in a hospital and said, "I am the missing Princess Anastasia." She looked like her, she had scratches and bruises, but the king didn't know if she was Anastasia so he gave her the name Anna Anderson.

Years later when DNA tests were a reality, they took a DNA sample from Anastasia's only living cousin, Prince Philip of Britain. Then they took a DNA sample of Anna Anderson's sister's son. Anna Anderson is in fact not Anastasia. She actually faked the whole thing. She was a Polish worker who worked at a grenade factory that exploded, so that explained the cuts and bruises. Her name is Franziska Schanzkowska.

The surprise shocked a few kids in my class because they thought it was a match. We also learned about albino animals, animals that are completely white. Then we looked at mutated flies. Some had white eyes, different body shapes or even different wings. That was our last station, so it was time to leave. It was an interesting and fun trip. It should be a field trip that should continue for a long time.

Giving opera lovers a voice

Have you ever noticed some kids are into opera or theater, but might be a little too embarrassed to explore their talents? An opera group called the Gilbert and Sullivan Light Opera Company of Long Island (gilbertandsullivanli.snicker snee.com) gives kids a chance to do what they love: sing without being embarrassed. This group has kids who love theater. My sister, Emily Economos, is a great singer. She has performed two Gilbert and Sullivan shows so far, and is going to perform another show, "The Mikado." Emily always has fun doing these shows because she gets to do what she loves. Gilbert and Sullivan created a series of funny operettas. Sullivan created the lyrics and Gilbert created the lines.

I think it's very important for kids to follow their interests because they can have fun doing something they love. Having a special talent or interest that you love can really affect your future, because if you're good at it, you can make money from it. Even in opera!

--Kidsday Reporter Rebecca Economos

CLASS OF THE WEEK: Laura Connolly's fifth-grade class, STRATFORD AVENUE SCHOOL, Garden City

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