Science Summer Camps

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The DNA Learning Center (DNALC) of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) is the world's first science center devoted entirely to genetics education. The DNALC "invented" DNA camps in 1985, and since then over 18,000 students have participated.

Each summer, we offer fun and challenging camps for science enthusiasts entering 6th–12th grade at four locations: the Dolan DNALC in Cold Spring Harbor; DNALC West in Lake Success; Harlem DNA Lab in New York City, and on the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory campus. Guided by experienced instructors, students use sophisticated laboratory and computer equipment to perform experiments several grade levels ahead of their peers.

Students at Summer Camps

Fun with DNA (entering grade 6 or 7) immerses students in activities and experiments designed to build a strong foundation in biology. Through model-making, microscope observations, and laboratories – including DNA extraction and genetic engineering – participants build an understanding of cell biology, microbiology, genetics, and biotechnology.

World of Enzymes (entering grade 8 or Fun with DNA alumni entering grade 7) builds on concepts learned in Fun with DNA. Students explore the use of enzymes in the food and health industries and are introduced to sophisticated DNA analysis by gel electrophoresis and polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

Green Genes (entering grade 9 or World of Enzymes alumni entering grade 8) introduces students to recombinant-DNA techniques used to manufacture human insulin and other biotech products. Participants use restriction enzymes and bacteria transformation to clone a jellyfish gene and then purify the resulting green fluorescent protein (GFP) from the transformants.

Forensic Detectives (entering grade 9) is a follow up to World of Enzymes and an introduction to forensic science for CSI enthusiasts. Although DNA is a useful crime-solving tool, it certainly isn't the only weapon detectives have in their crime-fighting arsenals! Through a series of labs and activities, participants will experience forensics in a more realistic fashion than portayed on prime time TV.

Backyard Barcoding (Green Genes alumni entering grade 9) is an introductory genetics course with an emphasis on the study of biological diversity. Participants use DNA barcoding to identify the species of origin for several tissue samples and learn how biologists use this information to conduct forensic analyses, surveys of diversity, and taxonomic classification.

DNA Science (entering grades 10–12) provides extensive lab experience with the basic techniques of recombinant DNA, including DNA restriction and ligation, bacterial transformation, and plasmid isolation. Participants perform an entire lab sequence from the popular DNA Science text.

Silencing Genomes (DNA Science alumni entering grades 11 or 12) explores the power of RNA interference (RNAi), a Nobel-prize winning discovery that has revolutionized how genes are studied. Working with the small round worm C. elegans, participants examine mutants, inactivate genes by RNAi, and examine the RNAi mechanism.

Being Human entering grades 11 or 12) Learn about the world of physical anthropology in this new course. Students connect the prehistoric world with modern biology through anthropological labs that get them up close and personal with our ancient ancestors.

BioCoding (DNA Science alumni entering grade 11 or 12) is an introductory course in bioinformatics and computer programing (coding) for students with little or no programming experience. Participants will learn the basics of working with Linux (Ubuntu), and are introduced to the Perl scripting language. Skills learned will be used to complete simple bioinformatics projects that utilize DNA sequence data generated from a hands-on lab experiment.

Genome Science (DNA Science alumni entering grade 11 or 12) integrates biochemical and computer methods used to analyze the genetic component of living things. Implementing a collection of genomic analysis techniques, participants will be introduced to modern genomic analysis. Lab work will include: using PCR to identify DNA variation in humans while studying human origins and the genetic basis for differences in taste, experiments in plants to detect genetically modified organisms and explore epigenetics, and online bioinformatics tools to map genes.

DNA Barcoding Research (DNA Science alumni entering grade 11 or 12) is a two-week independent research camp. Participants use DNA barcoding to survey the biodiversity of a specific ecosystem. Students will conduct fieldwork, lab work, and computer analyses with an eye toward understanding Cold Spring Harbor’s local ecology. The camp will culminate with the production of a scientific poster and presentation of research findings.


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