Friday, August 3, 2012

DNA in a Strawberry?

That's right! DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is sometimes refereed to as the "blueprint of life" and is inside every living organism.  In organisms like plants and animals, DNA is long and string-like and is tightly coiled in the organism's nucleus.  To separate DNA from a nucleus you must break the cells of an organism apart, filter out larger pieces of cell parts and collect the remaining liquid while adding chemicals like salt and alcohol to separate the DNA.  Since performing something like this on human cells could be a little gruesome (not to mention painful!) why not try it on a strawberry?

With just 3 strawberries, measuring spoons,two measuring cups, a cone-shaped coffee filter, a plastic zip-lock bag, some small clear cups, laundry detergent (liquid or powder), ice cubes, two big bowls, a timer, salt and ice-cold rubbing alcohol, you're kitchen will be transformed into your very own laboratory and you'll be checking out DNA in no time.

For the entire experiment along with several other at-home experiments, visit The Kitchen Pantry Scientist's website.

Exploring Science for All Ages!

Who says science can't be engaging, adventurous and fun?  With so many dubbing the subject as "boring" it's no wonder the United States is falling behind in science classrooms across the nation.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Changing the Economy with STEM

It's no secret that the United States has continued to come up short in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) - in the classroom and in the job market.  This is especially true for women and minorities.  Historically, the U.S. has led the world in technological and scientific advances, but with recent STEM education concerns on the rise, it appears that something must be done if the U.S. wants to maintain this reputation. Nonetheless, there is some good news here!  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM fields are expected to add 2.7 million new jobs by 2018.  Even now, when just mentioning the economy makes people shudder, job opportunities abound for careers in STEM.

So what about the young people and future generations here?  Since publishing the congressionally mandated report, "Rising above the Gathering Storm" in 2005, the government has made improving STEM education in U.S. schools a huge priority.  One can only hope that taking on the STEM challenge will lead to a brighter future for all. To read more about meeting the STEM challenge, read Warren E. Leary's analysis.