Girl Scouts Learn Science at JHU
Our community’s youngest scientists have been hard at work extracting DNA from strawberries, dissecting owl pellets and making raisins dance. In the name of scientific discovery, students in Brownie and Girl Scout Troops have spent their afternoons in a wet lab at Johns Hopkins University’s Montgomery County Campus, donning white lab coats, purple lab gloves and safety goggles.
Dr. Kristina Obom, program director for the Center for Biotechnology Education, and Dr. Beatrice Kondo, program coordinator for bioinformatics, led the budding scientists through a series of hands-on scientific exercises.
The dancing raisins experiment, for example, shows that when vinegar and baking soda are mixed, the resulting air bubbles cause objects to float. Extracting DNA from a strawberry gives students a rare opportunity to see DNA without the assistance of a microscope. Dissecting owl pellets allows students to pick out and identify bones: jaws, skulls, pelvic bones and ribs were among the common finds.
The young scientists clearly enjoyed their visit to campus.
“I liked the field trip to Johns Hopkins Wet Lab so much that I told my teacher Mrs. Cate about it,” said Lourdes, 8, of Brownie Troop 2495. “I told her about the experiments where I saw strawberry DNA and yeast making bubbles with sugar. I asked if our class could go on this field trip too. It was so much fun being in a lab and doing experiments.”
Evelyn, 8, shared Lourdes’ excitement: “I love doing the experiments It was fun to see the raisins dance and to separate the DNA from the strawberry.”
Melanie Tommer, 11, is a fifth-grade student at Lakewood Elementary school.
"You can extract DNA from strawberries,” Melanie said. “And can find many different things from owl pellets. It was really fun and interesting. "
The program is part of JHU-MCC’s K-12 outreach and mission to educate the future technology workforce. Approximately 75 students have participated since January 2013, and several hundred have participated since the program’s inception roughly two years ago. To make arrangements for a Girl Scout or Boy Scout troop to participate, email Barbara Crews.