Our affiliation with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory - The CSH Central School District has had a l

  • The following letter from the Vice President of Communications of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) explains in further detail our relationship with the CSHL as our students move through the Cold Spring Harbor Schools.  

    Dear Cold Spring Harbor School District Families:


    For many families in the district, the beginning of your relationship with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) was likely marked by a 1st grade field trip that included touching a brain, examining a fingerprint or identifying genetic mutations in flies.  We look forward the annual Goosehill visit and the enthusiasm that fills the air as our scientists share the wonders of biology with  kids and parents.  It’s our pleasure to do this special trip just for you, but the full value of CSHL’s science education expertise is shared with your children and teachers through a partnership between the school district and the Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center for grades 5-12. 


    CSHL’s DNA Learning Center

    CSHL established the DNA Learning Center (DNALC) in 1988 as the world’s first science center devoted entirely to genetics education.  The mission of the DNALC 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.


    Teaching facilities at the Dolan DNA Learning Center in Cold Spring Harbor Village, DNALC West in Lake Success and the Harlem DNA Lab in Manhattan extend CSHL’s traditional research and postgraduate education mission to the college, precollege and public levels.  Through the DNALC, the Laboratory is proud to partner with the Cold Spring Harbor School District to enhance science literacy in our community.


    Programs for CSH District Grades 5-12

    In 2010, DNALC staff met with school administrators to design a customized program for the Cold Spring Harbor School District (CSH) that includes in-school instruction by middle school specialists, field trips to the Dolan DNA Learning Center facility and a capstone course in molecular biology for 20 high school students.  This collaboration is similar to school membership programs with other Long Island school districts, including Half Hollow Hills, Jericho, Great Neck and Syosset.  What makes this CSH program unique is the breadth and depth of instruction – we work consistently and extensively with several grade levels, and have developed a unique course only available to CSH students.


    DNALC programs begin in grade 5. To enrich the existing curriculum in basic cell biology and genetics, over four separate in-school visits, each 5th grade student builds a cell model to reinforce cell structure and function; learns to use a compound light microscope to survey biodiversity at the cellular level; builds a 3D DNA model to better understand the genetic code; and investigates his/her own unique collection of inherited traits to explore Gregor Mendel’s laws of inheritance.  The program culminates with a trip to the DNALC to perform a DNA extraction and participate in the interactive forensics lab, The Mystery of Anastasia.


    The program spirals in 6th grade to build on the 5th grade foundation.  To enrich the 6th grade curriculum, this unit encompasses the connection between genes and their products - proteins. Over four separate in-school visits each 6th grade student uses a stereo microscope to observe fruit flies with genetic mutations; designs an experiment to test bacteria for antibiotic resistance; demonstrates the industrial use of enzymes in the production of common foods; and the chemical reaction that converts lactose sugar into two small byproducts during digestion.  This program culminates in a field trip to the Dolan DNA Learning Center to tour The Genes We Share (an interactive exhibit about the human genome) and to genetically engineer harmless bacteria with a gene for bioluminescence.


    The next phase of instruction picks up again in 8th grade. Students in grades 8-12 are involved in a series of laboratory field trips that include completion of the following: bacterial DNA transformation, restriction analysis of DNA, DNA fingerprinting, DNA profiling and bioinformatics.  The transformation and restriction analysis labs complement the NYS Living Environment curriculum, and are required labs for AP biology.   The DNA fingerprinting, DNA profiling and bioinformatics labs are high level labs for advanced students in grades 10-12.


    The Cold Spring Harbor Research Program collaboration is the only one of its kind.  This partnership provides a collegiate level course for advanced high school students, giving them training that is intended to jump-start their careers. The course emphasizes independent research and critical thinking, including three separate independent projects. Students learn to plan, execute, and analyze experiments of their own design, honing skills that will serve them in any future pursuit. The course includes a broad range of material and experiments: a bacterial unit focused on recombinant DNA technology and gene manipulation; work on plants emphasized concepts in gene structure, highlighted by an assay for transgenes in genetically modified food and analysis of newly sequenced genes in rice; human-based experiments explored genetic variation in populations and molecular tools to examine our origins; DNA Barcoding to survey biodiversity; and work with the small roundworm C. elegans introducing genetic and molecular techniques to study gene function, including silencing genes by a cutting-edge technique known as RNA interference.    


    Additional Educational Resources

    In addition to these specially-tailored program for the Cold Spring Harbor School District, CSHL offers learning opportunities for students throughout the year including:


    Partners for the Future offers high school juniors the opportunity to apply for a chance to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the Laboratory’s top researchers on a research project during their senior year in high school.   This is a competitive program that students must be nominated for by their High School Science Department Chairman.  Students selected for participation in the program commit to a regular schedule in a working laboratory under the supervision of CSHL faculty.  The program runs throughout the school year, culminating in a formal scientific presentation.


    Professor for A Day offers high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to participate in a professional scientific meeting.  Each year, more than 12,000 scientists from all over the world visit CSHL to participate in scientific meetings and advanced technology courses.  These meetings are where professional scientists exchange the latest information of developments in their research, initiate collaborations, and generate new ideas for future projects.



    DNALC Student summer day camps are week-long genetic workshops for students from middle school through high school at the Dolan DNA Learning Center, DNALC West in Lake Success and other locations including Stony Brook University.


    Saturday DNA! classes at the Dolan DNA Learning Center in Cold Spring Harbor Village provide fun learning experiences for children and parents.


    Internet sites provide easy access to educational material on genetics including topics of basic heredity, genetic disorders, eugenics, the discovery of the structure of DNA, DNA sequencing, cancer, and plant genetics.  Visit www.dnalc.org.



    Please visit www.cshl.edu for more information about CSHL and its education programs.  You can access the DNALC website directly at www.dnalc.org

    Contact the CSHL Public Affairs Department with any questions:  publicaffairs@cshl.edu or call 516 367 8455.


    On behalf of CSHL, I look forward to seeing you at DNALC programs and welcome you to participate in other events and activities that CSHL has developed for the public.  These include lectures, concerts, guided tours and more.  Follow us on FaceBook and Twitter! 





    Dagnia Zeidlickis

    Vice President, Communications