BioHack Academy 4 – Week 5

Reliable analysis cannot be done on only one strand of DNA. You need to make millions of copies of a region of that strand to get accurate results. That is why a technique called PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is used to amplify the DNA.

In the good old days PCR used to be done by hand, by mixing strands of DNA, enzymes, and nucleotides in tubes and submerging them between water baths set to different temperatures, or so I’ve heard. Nowadays a thermocycler will automatically undergo the process of heating and cooling at the precise timing you program it to. But if you’re a true pioneer seeking self-discovery, you might as well do PCR in the heart of a forest

In any case, if you’re still clueless of what can be done with thermocyclers, here’s an article from BioCoder that explains how portable thermocyclers (miniPCR) are being used outside of the lab, from a truffle farm to outer space.


Alas, we didn’t have the proper parts to make a thermocycler so we only got to make the gelbox that is used for gel electrophoresis which sorts strands of DNA in different lengths. DNA is loaded in a gel that is submerged in a saline buffer. When electric current is applied to the buffer, the negatively charged DNA will be pulled through the mesh of agar. The shorter strands will travel faster and further than the longer ones and the strands of DNA will be sorted into bands like this.

Midterm presentations were coming up so the participants were also busy sharing their ideas and brainstorming.


On a whim, we also extracted DNA from yummy frozen blueberries.



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