Swan Bio year 12

Koala or Quokka: Swan Biology Students Conduct DNA Test To Find Out!

On Thursday 25 February our Year 12 Biology students (those on-campus and through Swanonline) took part in the first-ever ‘Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Science Investigation’ to be carried out in a Western Australian school setting.

What is PCR?

In very simple terms, PCR is a technique used to amplify segments of DNA to create sufficient amounts to create large enough samples in order to analyse and study the segments.

We have used a small PCR machine that in essence ‘copies’ the DNA so that we have a large enough sample to then load onto gel in an electrophoresis tank to analyse it. Gel electrophoresis uses the electrical charges of molecules to separate them by their length. It is commonly used to analyse DNA fragments.

The students were tasked which identifying which of two unknown DNA samples and determining their origins – their choices: a koala or a quokka!

It is a very exciting development that our College can have a PCR machine in our Science department. Going forward, we may be able to ’map’ out the living organisms in our College ecosystem using DNA Barcodes.

Schools in the USA and in the eastern states of Australia have started this ‘mapping’ process and two new species may have been identified by Australian students! We hope to use this technology in our College as a relevant and exciting STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and the Arts) project in the future.

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