Friday, January 01, 2010

What a Cool Lab Project

One of my biggest gripes about high school labs is how rudimentary they are. They're often simplified to the point of barely teaching anything or so filled with unconstrained variables that the uncertainty is over 100%.

But a New York High School is apparently working with Rockefeller University to match the DNA of everyday items with a database of species. And they found lots of cool stuff:
  • Alleged sheep's milk cheese that was nothing but cow's milk

  • Purported dried shark meat that turned out to be Nile perch

  • Mississippi paddlefish eggs masquerading as Sturgeon caviar

  • Frozen Yellow catfish that proved to be Walking catfish, an invasive species in Florida
Perhaps the most interesting find was a potentially new species of cockroach.

I'm curious as to how much of the actual sequencing work the students are in on or if the actual science is a "black box" sort of thing, but either way, this sort of lab work is much more interesting and will probably stay with the students far longer than rolling rusty carts down inclined planes.

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