Spaulding High School/Norwich University Science Exploration Series: A Huge Sucess!

Today wrapped up an exciting and inspiring week of the first Science Exploration Series to be held at Norwich University’s College of Science and Mathematics.  Teachers and students from Spaulding High School (Barre, VT) spent the week with Norwich University science faculty to work on a Barcode of Life Project that they can potentially bring back to their high school classrooms in the future.  The week started with the entire team going down to the Dog River, adjacent to Norwich’s campus, putting on waders and dragging D nets to collect a variety of animals in the river, including insect larvae, snails, and even fish. Norwich Geology and Environmental Science professor Chris Koteus led the team by describing the geology of the Dog River Valley, explaining how the river changes constantly and how the animals respond to those environmental changes. Under the guidance of Karen Hinkle, a professor in the Biology department, participants used molecular biology techniques to dissociate animal tissues, isolate genomic DNA, and perform PCR amplification of a portion of the CO1 mitochondrial gene for eventual DNA sequencing.  Once the DNA is sequenced, the team will be able to use sophisticated DNA analysis tools and publicly available databases (NCBI/BLAST and BOLD) to genetically identify the species collected and to determine evolutionary relationships between the groups.  Heather Driscoll, a research faculty member at Norwich University funded through the Vermont Genetics Network, led the participants in an overview of the Barcode of Life project and in using these tools to analyze DNA sequences.  In addition to the aforementioned experiments, the faculty and students also took part in a day of Chemistry experimentation, where professor Dick Milius led the group in separation of analgesics from common pain medication using thin layer chromatography, another exciting project that Spaulding faculty can take back to their students.  Throughout the week, the Norwich and Spaulding participants had breakout sessions where they reviewed data, troubleshooted experiments, and also had some time for socializing and planning for future events.  The strong connections made between Norwich and Spaulding faculty and students through this program are sure to spark collaborations between the two institutions in the future! 


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