Huntington Junior Studies at CSH Lab
Joey London loves summer vacation. The break allows the Huntington High School junior to study at the nearby Cold Spring Harbor Lab, where he recently completed a two week barcoding research camp program.
"DNA Barcoding: The Biocube" was designed as a research course for teachers and students. Program participants engaged in a "unique exploration of the intertidal zone adjacent to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory campus," according to a description of the camp.
"This was a very exciting course because I was able to work with National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager and Oscar Pineda- Catalan, conservation biologist from the DNA Learning Center-Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory," Mr. London said.
The February 2010 issue of National Geographic showcased Mr. Liittschwager's photos of life in one cubic-foot samples from habitats in Costa Rica, French Polynesia, South Africa, Tennessee and New York.
"This will be the first educational workshop to use Mr. Liittschwager's biocube method to document all of the visible plants and animals in a one cubic-foot sample," according the camp brochure. Participants observed the intertidal habitat adjacent to the CSH Lab campus and later collected, sorted and photographed individual specimens found inside the cubic-foot wire frame.
Mr. London identified specimens using a field guide and with assistance from experts from natural history museums. DNA was extracted from specimens and sequenced to develop a DNA barcode, which specifically identifies every living thing. The camp experience culminated with a symposium of scientific posters and multimedia presentations produced by the participants.
"It was amazing to learn about the biodiversity in the intertidal zone at the Cold Spring Harbor Lab campus," Mr. London said. "My favorite part was the DNA extraction and barcoding of the many species we collected in a one cubic foot area." The teenager was the only Huntington High School student in the program. His lab partner came all the way from Korea to participate in the summer science camp.
A trip to the shoreline along the grounds of the CSH Lab to collect samples for their biocubes was a fun experience for the camp participants. Back in the lab, group members conducted research on the samples, extracting DNA from them and barcoding the items. Mr. London and his fellow students developed a scientific research project and later made a presentation at a symposium.
A local television network had its cameras at the symposium and footage from the session is expected to air soon. Parents were asked to give their consent to National Geographic for the use of photographs and information in a possible future article. The parents were excited that the experience enjoyed by their children might actually make it into an issue of the famed publication.
The summer program was open to students entering eleventh grade or higher. Participants must have completed the CSH Lab course DNA Science or have a high level of training in the sciences. Daily workshops ran from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an all-day symposium on the final day of the program.