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Biology students solve mock murder mystery in DNA videoconference

Students in Mr. Shannon’s biology classes took part in a genetic revolution videoconference with Dr. Jeff Day from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday, February 23, 2011.

Dr. Day first reviewed the structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) with all of the students and showed them how the process of DNA fingerprinting works. Using the process of electrophoresis, along with DNA polymerases, Dr. Day worked through a crime science investigation to help determine who murdered “Dr. Phil.”

In the CSI, DNA samples were taken from all of the suspects, and the biology students simulated the DNA fingerprinting process by breaking down the DNA code for each suspect and analyzing what DNA fingerprint each suspect would have.

The students then compared their suspect’s DNA fingerprint to the ones left at the scene to figure out “whodunit.”

After the CSI activity, Dr. Day and the biology students discussed genetic engineering, related to crop production, cloning, and the ethical decisions that must be taken into account when working with genetic precursors, such as stem cells.

The students involved did a tremendous job of solving the case and interacting with Dr. Day. We would like to say “THANK YOU” to Dr. Day, again for his wonderful presentation, as well as Dave Privett, for providing the resources to access the videoconference and Mr. Galen Boldt for providing the funding to participate in the workshop.

Information on Jeff Day, M.D.
Jeff Day is an enthusiastic science educator with broad interests including health, natural history and art. After graduating from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Jeff was excited to meld all these interests in one place – the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, often incorporating his cartooning into educational programs. Some of his interesting sidebars include the publication of a children’s book on dangerous wildlife that he authored and illustrated (Don't Touch That!), studying native plant medicine in Hawaii, and spending a year in Australia learning zoology and volunteering for wildlife surveys. Check out www.jeffdaycartoons.com for more about Dr. Day!

C.S.I. Wahoo

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