We stand at the threshold of a new century with the whole human genome stretched out before us.

The mission of the DNA Learning Center is to prepare students and families to thrive in the gene age. We envision a day when all elementary students are exposed to principles of genetics and disease risk; when all high school students have the opportunity to do hands-on experiments with DNA; and when all families have access to genetic information they need to make informed health care choices.

Approved by the DNALC Advisory Committee December 5, 2003.

Introducing Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's DNA Learning Center

Duration: 4 minutes, 38 seconds

Introducing the DNA Learning Center

POSTED November 3, 2016

In 1988, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory established the DNA Learning Center (DNALC) as the world's first science center devoted entirely to public genetics education. Founder and executive director David Micklos anticipated that there would be huge gaps in science curricula taught at even the finest schools and conceived a program that would better prepare students in 5th through 12th grades (and their families) to thrive in the gene age.

The DNALC is the largest provider of biotechnology instruction at the precollege level in the United States, operating six teaching laboratories in Cold Spring Harbor, Lake Success, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. Each year 30,000 precollege students conduct hands-on experiments at the DNALC or receive intensive lab instruction from DNALC staff at their schools.

More than 20,000 middle and high school students have attended our week-long camps. A survey of summer campers indicates that the experience improves their confidence and encourages them to take more science classes. The workshops specifically support girls' science aspirations by increasing their success with hands-on work. For many, the DNALC influenced their decision to pursue science as a college major or as a career. In addition, over 10,000 precollege and college faculty have received intensive training at DNALC-sponsored workshops conducted in 48 states and 15 foreign countries.

Laboratory field trips for 5th through 12th grade classes include hands-on experiments, independent research, interactive computer experiences, the museum exhibition featuring Ötzi the Iceman, and multimedia presentations in the auditorium.

Student summer day camps provide week-long experiences for students who love science at our locations in Cold Spring Harbor, Lake Success, Harlem, and Brooklyn, as well as at additional sites in the metro-area.

Independent Student Research programs in DNA barcoding allow students to develop their own research projects while using common approaches. These programs aim to increase the understanding and interest of students in science by enabling them to design and carry out modern molecular research projects.

Teacher Training Workshops and Fellowships for secondary and college faculty are held at DNALC sites and at host institutions throughout the country.

Webinars offer live, virtual instruction in bioinformatics and hands-on lab activites with DNALC educators.

School District Membership Programs for local school districts provide benefits such as: preferred workshop placement, discounted field trips, and invitations to scientific lectures.

Saturday DNA! classes make use of DNALC resources to provide fun learning experiences for the public.

Multimedia Resources include educational websites, videos, and apps, which cover basic heredity, genetic disorders, eugenics, the discovery of the structure of DNA, the human genome, cancer, neurobiology, plant genetics, RNA interference, epigenetics, and bioinformatics. Many sites feature laboratory protocols developed at the DNALC.

DNA Science, A First Course, 2nd Edition is a laboratory text that combines illustrated, narrative text with easy-to-use, reliable laboratory protocols. Nineteen laboratories in Genome Science are designed to take students to a higher level of biological and technological integration – to study the function of eukaryotic genes and genomes. All labs stress the modern synthesis of molecular biology and computation, integrating in vitro experimentation with in silico bioinformatics.

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