Dothan 3rd-graders Performing Grade-wide Strawberry DNA Extraction April 23

DCS and Houston Academy 3rd-graders celebrating National DNA Day by participating in strawberry DNA extraction

DOTHAN (April 16, 2024) – Third-graders in Dothan will celebrate National DNA Day on Tuesday, April 23, by participating in a unique science experiment. More than 600 students in 10 schools will extract strands of DNA from strawberries as part of a hands-on learning experience designed to introduce the students to basic genomic concepts.

Educators from HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville and HudsonAlpha Wiregrass in Dothan will lead the activity using supplies found in most households. Students will learn what DNA is and its importance in helping scientists better understand both human health and agriculture. The lesson complements the Alabama Course of Study for Science.

Participating schools include the following Dothan City School System schools: Carver Math, Science and Technology, Beverlye and Girard Intermediate Schools and Heard, Selma Street, Faine, Kelly Springs, Highlands and Slingluff Elementary Schools along with Houston Academy.

“We’re looking forward to engaging with third graders across the city of Dothan for this hands-on lesson,” said Kelly East, HudsonAlpha’s Vice President of Educational Outreach. “I believe that more Dothan 3rd graders will extract strawberry DNA on April 23rd than the current world record holder. While that statistic is big and exciting, I am most excited about the opportunity to get to know local students and share why DNA is so important to life. I can’t think of anything better than students coming home from this event excited about science and able to share what they learned with their families.”

National DNA Day is celebrated on or near April 25 annually and commemorates the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and the discovery of DNA’s double helix in 1953.

“There is a lot of exciting momentum for genomics and science in general in the Wiregrass and this is just one of the ways we’re trying to introduce these topics into our classrooms and community,” said Dean Mitchell, Director of HudsonAlpha Wiregrass. “We’re thankful to have such wonderful partnerships in our local schools that we can do things like this.”

About HudsonAlpha Wiregrass

In 2022, HudsonAlpha announced the expansion of its physical footprint outside of its longtime home in Huntsville. The public-private collaboration with the city of Dothan is called HudsonAlpha Wiregrass and extends HudsonAlpha’s agricultural focus in the region through agricultural research, economic development and genomics education. 

Next year, HudsonAlpha Wiregrass will be the anchor tenant of the planned Wiregrass Innovation Center. This 45,000-square foot City of Dothan facility is funded by the state of Alabama and the Wiregrass Foundation and Construction on the Wiregrass Innovation Center will begin this year and open in 2025.

The Wiregrass Innovation Center will serve several major functions, including being a home for hands-on training and practical learning in science, genomics, research, technology and innovation, and will create an ecosystem for entrepreneurs and innovators in Dothan and the Wiregrass area. 

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