DNA Learning Center to host summer science camps

Author: Gene Stowe

DNA Learning Center

High school and grade school students from around the country will be able to experience the life of a Notre Dame science student for a week this summer. The Notre Dame DNA Learning Center will hold week-long residential camps this summer for students who are entering grades 8 through 11, and day camps for students who are entering grades 7 through 10.

The Notre Dame DNA Learning Center is a hands-on learning center for genetics and molecular biology that was created to engage K-12 students and community members in cutting-edge research that is transforming the modern world. The center, which was made possible by the generosity of John Passarelli ’72 and his wife Heidi, is a licensee of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory DNA Learning Center (DNALC) in New York and utilizes a successful model of teaching methods, technology, and intellectual property of DNALC.

DNA Learning Center

“This is the first summer that the center has even been open, so it’s the first summer for the camp,” says Amy Stark, Ph.D. who is a geneticist who became the director of the center when it opened last June. “We’re excited to have the opportunity for students to come to campus to experience the hands-on labs we’ve been developing and to live like a college student for a week–stay in the dorms and eat in the dining hall.”

Rather than lectures or demonstrations, “everything the center does is intended to be done by the people visiting,” Stark says. “It’s set up very uniquely. It’s a full lab that’s also very accessible to people of all ages.”  Individual tables are each equipped with the same research tools used in laboratories across the campus. Visitors conduct experiments, interpret results, and apply them to their own lives and families. Topics are gene-related, such as genotyping, forensics, genetically-modified foods, and DNA bar coding.

Each of the summer camps has space for up to thirty-two students. Some financial aid is available. More information and registration details are available on the center’s website.