Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Another Week Goes By

“Whirr…whirr…whirr” sang the centrifuge, as my precious tube spun around and around the centrifuge, collecting on the bottom so that eventually I could harvest its DNA. Our two experiments today were both focused on gathering and observing DNA, the molecule that governs the way our bodies work and operate.

The first experiment used the DNA of a calf’s thymus and 100% ethanol to make DNA insoluble and thus precipitate out of the solution of the calf thymus and into the ethanol, where we observed the DNA naturally, heat shocked, and treated with DNAse, an enzyme. The second experiment was focused on deriving pure DNA from a sample of E. coli. This involved using six different chemicals to break down the cells, and using the centrifuge to continually condense cellular material at the bottom of the microtubes. In the end, we ended up with pure DNA, which we will use in tomorrow’s experiment.

Today’s quiz was relatively simple. It quizzed us on some of the concepts learned from the labs. The most difficult part of the quiz was naming everyone in class. I’m ashamed to admit that it was easier to discuss proper centrifuge usage and techniques than to match faces with names. After class, I was supposed to meet with two other classmates to go to Waterplace Park to take a picture. Ms. Hall suggested doing this as a way of helping to get to know one another better. One of my classmates left early, so I will be visiting Waterplace Park tomorrow.

A week ago, we left home to find a great adventure awaiting us on the East Coast. This past week has been unbelievably fun, and I'm glad that I have had this opportunity to visit the East Coast and to participate in college campus tours and in the Brown Biotechnology Course. Even though we have only spent three days at Brown University so far, it feels as if it has been far longer. Already I have met so many new people, made a myriad new lifelong friends and connections, and learned more about deoxyribonucleic acid and its special characteristics that give us all life.


  1. Austin,

    Mr. Ramsey and I were just discussing how science types tend to be less outgoing than those taking humanities types of classes. You helped reinforce this when you wrote about the difficulty with the quiz aimed at testing how well you had assimilated who else was in your class.

    I'm sure you saw the benefit in this exercise and will work towards making this as much a part of your education as purifying DNA.

    I hate being critical in these blogs, Austin, and I promised myself that I wouldn't but this little criticism may be of benefit to others: your mother takes "pictures"--we take "photographs". Learn the distinction and set yourself above those that merely take snapshots.

    By the way, nice "photograph" at the top of the page.

  2. The quiz on peoples names was difficult for me, because I was not used to quick and rapid memorization of people's names. I prefer to slowly learn more about others and to take my time in developing friendships, but this experience was interesting for me in that it was the first time that I have ever had the need to get to know people at such a rapid pace. I really enjoyed the exercise nonetheless, even if I didn't exactly excel at it.

    As for the photograph, I know that it wasn't the best picture, but it was the best one I had. I had wanted to take a better picture to demonstrate what our labs were like, but that day we didn't have enough extra time for me to take a picture of Megan and William in action. In short, I'll be sure to post better photographs in the future.