Philly Science Festival

The Drndic group, Science Outreach Initiative of the School of Arts and Sciences, and Project BioEyes from University of Pennsylvania demonstrated how DNA affects physical features in living organisms, like zebrafish, and the importance of DNA sequencing in an educational exhibit at Philadelphia Science Festival on Saturday April 30 2016 as a part of National DNA Day initiative. Children from all age groups visited the booth, which was aptly titled “What Can Fish Tell Us About DNA?”, and learned about how a small
change in DNA sequence can create two different types of zebrafish – wildtype and albino – and how nanopore sequencing technology can help us find these differences easily.
Microscopes were installed in the booth to observe the physical differences between the two types of zebrafish larvae and adult, following which the visitor was handed an index card with a fish scale printed on one side and a colored DNA code on the other. These cards could then be inserted into punched envelopes revealing a specific color code, very similar to how nanopore DNA sequencing technology works. The color codes could be matched up to a map aiding in classification of the fish scale into the two types of fishes. A “DNA inside a nanopore” bracelet were also given to every visitor, which consisted of a colored strip of paper inside a rectangular movable sleeve with a hole in the middle.

The booth was managed by the volunteers from both the participating groups from 10 am to 4 pm at Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia. This exhibit was one of the two demonstrations which Drndic group participated in during the Philadelphia Science Festival, the other being “Nanopore Explorin’” on the previous Sunday, April 24 2016 in the Singh Nanotechnology Center, Philadelphia.