Experimenting with the fun side of science

Students learn to extract banana DNA at a workshop conducted by SoS — Photo: K. Pichumani   | Photo Credit: K_Pichumani

Have you ever tried extracting DNA from a banana? It can be done with just a few household articles. Strange, but true.

Nearly 100 students who participated in a workshop organised by a network called Science Outreach to Schools (SoS) learnt to do it.

All they had to do was mix smashed bananas in a salty solution, liquid soap and ethanol to find the DNA.

SoS was born when some research scholars based at University of Cambridge decided to popularise science and research among school students in India.

The team comprising Priyanka Joshi, Aditi Borkar, Moni Gupta and Anuradha Radhakrishnan Pallipurath felt the need to form a network after seeing outreach programmes in the United Kingdom. Students would visit the University to learn about science and various research activities related to it. “We did not have such exposure in school. So we wanted to give something back to our country,” said Ms. Radhakrishnan.

Another aim of the SoS network is to make students aware that good grades are not necessary to become a scientist. “Children need to think out of the box,” said Ms. Radhakrishnan. The workshop also taught kids that science is fun.

Renu Glada, a science teacher at KFI, said such workshops gave a broader perspective on science. “Students get a real experience of what they have read in textbooks. They also get to speak to experts,” she said.

M. Guhan and K. Chaitanya of Asan Memorial School who participated in the event said they learnt in great detail what DNA is all about. “I prefer such hands-on training to textbook lessons as we get to learn from experience,” said Chaitanya.

The SoS network will conduct such workshops in schools run by the Chennai Corporation too.

“Many think that research is not lucrative. But that is a wrong notion,” said Ms. Radhakrishnan, adding that Indian research scholars from several universities abroad wished to participate in such endeavours.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 12:35:30 AM |

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