Lone Tree students aim for the stars

STEM Scouts earn award for space DNA experiment

Posted 5/29/18

Three students from the Lone Tree STEM Scout program received Junior Scientist Awards from Minipcr, a company that sponsors the Genes in Space program, which encourages students to create DNA …

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Lone Tree students aim for the stars

STEM Scouts earn award for space DNA experiment

Posted

Three students from the Lone Tree STEM Scout program received Junior Scientist Awards from Minipcr, a company that sponsors the Genes in Space program, which encourages students to create DNA experiments that are sent into space.

STEM Scouts Tobey Switzer, 15, Alejandro Casillas, 13, William Chen, 14, and Gitanjali Rao, 12, received the award for their experiment addressing genetics of plant growth regulation in microgravity.

“I was amazed by the amount of dedication these kids showed for this project,” said Kaitlyn Elliott, leader of the STEM group. “They brought creativity and curiosity to the project and leveraged it to learn a lot in a short amount of time.”

STEM Scouts is a program run by the Boy Scouts of America that focuses on introducing careers and topics within the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Lone Tree's students come from Highlands Ranch, Campus Middle School and Cherry Creek High School. Students started working in January learning coding. They spent nearly two months learning about genes and preparing for their project.

“The Scouts designed a unique experiment using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to study genetics to be done on the International Space Station,” said Elliott.

Emily Gleason, director of educational initiative and engagement for Minipcr, said the research kids are doing is groundbreaking and necessary.

“PCR had not been done in space, and there are a lot of questions about how organisms react in space,” said Gleason. “Everything in space works a little differently, like what happens to astronauts' bodies and plants. These kids come up with questions and experiments that address that.”

“It was inspiring to see how excited they got about genetics and the potential of PCR and gene editing in the future,” said Elliott.

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