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DNA deconstructed after dark

Thursday 17th November 2016

Kate Castleden, Programme Manager for Living Well Oxford, gets under the skin of DNA..

DNA After Dark – Shaken and Stirred adult-only session was the latest in Science Oxford’s Gunge for Grown-ups series. On a dark and wintery night in East Oxford we were joined by scientists from Reading University Oxford University’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, to get up close and personal with DNA through a range of interactive hands-on activities.

After a brief introduction to DNA and genes, we began to explore inheritance.  A simple dice and Lego game elegantly demonstrated how we inherit our genes from our parents.  Each group “mated” the same fictional male and female creatures, known as “luxbops”, and saw how it is the combination of what we inherit from each of our parents that determines our characteristics.


We then used the newly generated genetic information from the “mating” process to create the “luxbop” offspring, using edible glue and a variety of sweets to demonstrate different eye colour, tail length, tail thickness and so on.


It was interesting the see the variety of characteristics amongst the offspring as seen here:


A re-designed version of Scrabble was a great way to explore how small changes in our genetic code can cause big impacts.


There was also the opportunity to have a go at tissue culture with cauliflower, by cutting off a small piece and placing it in special gel to encourage the growth of new roots and shoots.


A newly developed card game demonstrated how our blood group (which we inherit from our parents) can determine our susceptibility to disease.


And finally, the strawberry DNA daiquiris. Using the right ratio of crushed strawberry, pineapple juice and 63 % rum, we saw how easily DNA can be extracted from strawberries, before enjoying a rather strong mini-cocktail!



What the audience thought:


We would like to thank the participating scientists for their ideas and enthusiasm which made the event so enjoyable.

For more information, news and blogs visit Living Well here.

Date: Thursday 10th November 2016
Venue: Magdalen Road Church, 41 Magdalen Road, Oxford, OX4 1RB


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