MS Head's Blog
In the Middle of It All
Middle School Musings by Trevor O’Driscoll, Bancroft's Head of Middle School
Most weeks, MS Head Trevor O’Driscoll writes a short note to parents and faculty about middle school, education, parenting, and other topics relevant to our community. We share these Middle School Musings here for the benefit and enjoyment of all who are interested. Read recent entries, browse the archives, and delight in Mr. O’Driscoll’s take on our Middle School and the amazing people who inhabit it.
The Case of the Cross-Divisional DNA Lesson
One of the many things that excites me about working at Bancroft is seeing how great teachers are always striving to engage and teach their students in new, exciting, and meaningful ways. Upper School science teacher MaryAnn DeMaria recently shared the story of how a chat with colleague Carrie Whitney, our sixth grade science teacher, resulted in her eleventh grade students concocting a crime scenario — let’s call it “The Candy Caper” — to illustrate current DNA analysis technology to the sixth grade students. MaryAnn writes:
"Earlier in the year Carrie asked me to help her put together a DNA fingerprinting lab for her students. I thought it would be great if the juniors in my AP Biology class could modify their Restriction Enzyme Lab and turn into an experience for the sixth graders. Their idea was to make the crime a candy theft — someone had stolen the candy from Mr. Kamosky’s desk! They crafted a great lesson plan to teach the sixth graders how DNA fingerprinting actually works to identify a criminal. They created lab packets, designed an assessment, and set up the lab for the sixth graders. They even recruited several faculty and staff members to star in this video, which set the stage and outlined the crime for the sixth graders."
This week I popped into the Fuller Science Center and witnessed those sixth and eleventh graders working side-by-side, performing gel electrophoresis on DNA from the “suspects,” which allowed them to create a DNA fingerprint to help determine the perp’s identity. As MaryAnn excitedly explained, “My students got to be ‘teachers of others’ while capably demonstrating their knowledge of DNA and DNA fingerprinting!”
Eventually the sixth graders will create a news video to share their results with the juniors.
When educators have opportunities to connect like this, even a casual conversation between two of Bancroft’s fantastic teachers can grow into a unique and memorable learning experience that connects our curious and talented students across divisions.
As to who committed the crime? I’ll have to plead the Fifth.
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