On September 2nd, AGSS hosted our first workshop of the 2023-24 year! Over 40 girls attended our DNA and Biophysics workshop led by junior Emmie Kao. We first discussed how Biophysics — a lesser known discipline in science — is the intersection of Biology and Physics. Starting with Biology, we looked at cells, the building blocks of the universe, and their components, called organelles, and the differences between animal and plant cells. We then zoomed in on the nucleus, which houses DNA. We learned about the structure of a DNA molecule and how it determines the traits in living organisms. Our first hands-on activity was constructing candy DNA, where participants created double helices with licorice and lifesavers. Of course, we happily ate our DNA creations afterwards. We also took the chance to discuss Rosalind Franklin’s contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA, featuring her as our Woman in STEM.
Next up: Physics! What is a force? It can be a push or a pull, such as gravity. Forces cause motion, but what does motion look like in a fluid? Some fluids, like water, are easier to move through than more viscous fluids, such as honey. Our bodies are made up of many fluids, and we can apply these concepts of physics to track movements in our bodies, like blood flow. This is an example of Biophysics. We can even track moving particles such as DNA! Our next activity was Strawberry DNA Extraction, during which we crushed strawberries, put them in an extraction solution, and watched the DNA bunch up and become visible to the human eye! We talked about the movement of DNA during the lab and shouted with glee when our DNA finally began to form. One participant exclaimed: “It was really cool to see the parts of a strawberry that you couldn’t see from the outside.” Another participant said: “It was cool that a couple liquids could make the DNA visible!” Lastly, we placed our clumps of strawberry DNA into different solutions to measure the velocity at which it moved through a certain liquid. A participant stated at the end of the workshop that her favorite activity was measuring the velocity of DNA because she “loves doing science experiments.”
We hope to see you at our next workshop, the Electricity and Power Workshop, on October 14th at Mission Hills Library!