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My kid the bioengineer

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 - 06:00 AM

jellyfish in blue water jellyfish (marj_k/flickr)

In our show (So Called) Life, we interviewed undergrads at MIT giving bacteria genes to make them smell minty fresh. If you are at all disquieted that such young minds are given such profound tools, sorry, bioengineers are getting ever younger. As part of a program designed to help teachers in NYC schools run a DNA transformation lab, I've seen 5th graders engineer bacteria to glow like a certain species of jellyfish found off the coast of Washington State.

These 10-year-olds readily absorb the concept that the DNA code is universal and that bacteria swap and take up bits of DNA in the form of plasmids. Using this information, they predicted the expected results before the experiment. 'Why shouldn't bacteria glow in the dark?' they said. 'As long as they have the instructions, it's easy!'

Tell us what your little scientists are doing these days!


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Comments [7]

Laura from Boston, MA

The music at the end was GREAT! I kept waiting to hear what musical it was from -- because whatever musical it was, I WANTED TO SEE IT! I wish it HAD been a musical!

Write one? Please?

Oct. 29 2011 05:13 PM
Judd Meyers

Consider for a moment the reason why humans (and probably mammals in general), think e-coli stinks. Perhaps it is its poisonous nature in any reasonable concentration. Now consider it getting into the e-coli population as a whole. Radio lab made me reconsider our interaction when they talked about our bodies being little planest with interfunctioning eco-sytems of many organisms. In short, just because we can, doesn't mean we know what we are doing. Much like modern medicine, its not a very wholistic view. Parts is parts? I don't buy it.

Oct. 26 2008 04:43 PM

It is a wonderful time to be alive. I look forward to what these little scientists come up with next.

Apr. 25 2008 05:37 PM

"Tell us what YOUR little scientists are doing these days!"

Ah. Journalism.

Apr. 24 2008 10:41 PM

A few weeks ago we extracted DNA from cow liver! But that was as far as my bio class went. It was surprisingly simple. Too bad we couldn't make the cow liver glow.

Apr. 23 2008 10:57 PM

I just did a science experiment, dealing with e.coli, in my college bio. class and it wasn't nearly as cool as what the 5th graders did. That makes me happy and sad at the same time...

Apr. 23 2008 09:14 PM

Yeah, my High School has recently purchased the equipment so that next year the AP Bio class will be able to do the same experiment.

Apr. 23 2008 12:51 PM

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