DNA Day 2012 is almost here! The John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is offering a free public education event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., April 29, 2012, at the Miami Science Museum, 3280 S. Miami Avenue in Miami. The Hussman Institute team has developed 11 hands-on exhibits and activities, each showcasing a unique feature of DNA and genetics. Children ages 4-15 will be able to pin their unique physical genetic traits on a “gene tree,” solve a simulated crime mystery using DNA evidence and even extract DNA from their own saliva to make a DNA necklace! Those who complete all of the activities will receive a small gift when they present their DNA Day “passport” at the checkout booth. Members of the Boy and Girl Scouts can get a limited-edition activity patch for attending the event.
Over 100 volunteers from the Hussman Institute, local universities and local high schools will be involved by contributing their knowledge of genetics and DNA to the next generation of scientists on DNA Day. “DNA Day gives us a unique opportunity to use our scientific knowledge to inspire young people in a fun and hands-on way. The field of science and particularly genetics is moving forward so quickly and it is likely many of these kids will be have careers involved in science in the future. This is a great opportunity to spark their interest at an early age.” said Abigail Rupchock, a genetic counselor at the Hussman Institute for Human Genomics and member of the DNA Day Planning Committee. “We can show the kids that science and genetics isn’t just something you learn about in the classroom and that it can be a lot of fun!”
National DNA Day began in April of 2003 and is a celebration of the completion of the Human Genome in 2003 as well as the discovery of DNA’s double helix in 1953. In addition to the various local celebrations like that at the Miami Science Museum, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) provides online events and a variety of free, educational tools on genetics and genomics. The NHGRI hosts the annual DNA Day Online Chatroom on April 20th from 8 am to 6pm EST. Classrooms or individuals can submit questions online about everything from DNA basics to the future of genomic medicine to experts who will respond in real time. Teachers who are interested in registering their classroom should visit the NHGRI DNA Day Web page (www.genome.gov/DNAday)