International Development Week

International Development Week 2010/11
Click on the image for photo gallery

On Thursday, February 10, the cafeteria served up beans & rice. No salad or sandwich bar and no beverages of any kind – aside from water. This is how the developing world lives.

York House’s Globe Leaders Group planned a week of activities for International Development Week (Feb 7-10), including workshops, trivia contests, displays and of course, the surprise lunch menu.

The Globe Leaders Group thought it would be important to show York House how lucky we are that we get to eat 3 full meals a day, with plenty of snacks in between, as well as diverse foods.

The average person in a developing country eats beans and rice every day. They are lucky if they get that kind of meal 3 times day; most of the time it’s only once. It gives some protein and other nutrients, and at the same time is very filling. For people who live for under $2 a day, it is the only thing they can afford.

Chef Cecil felt he just couldn’t serve plain ole’ beans and rice, so he took a little pity on the girls and added a bit of seasoning (cumin and cilantro mainly). The girls happily munched on their $2 entrée, giving it 2 thumbs up… but what if you had to eat this every day?

In the cafeteria, there were several displays on the developing world including South America, the Middle East and Haiti. Girls managing each booth answered questions from students and played music or a video.

During International Development Week, students can learn a little bit more about life in developing countries, and find out how they can be active global citizens.

For more information or to share an interesting idea or project, please contact Ms. Stanger.

Can you spot the glowing protein?

Can you spot the glowing protein? 3 tubes containing the GFP and one empty tube for comparision. All shone under UV light.
Can you spot the glowing protein? 3 tubes containing the GFP and one empty tube for comparision. All shone under UV light.

The seven AP Biology students were recently presented with a fabulous opportunity to work with bacteria and genetic material to accompany the molecular genetics they are covering in class.

This lab is a first at YHS, so both the students and their instructors, Ms. Lee and Ms. Dombroski, were rather unsure as to what the outcome would be.

Their goal was to add the “pGLO plasmid” to bacterial DNA, hoping eventually to observe the bacteria glowing. A plasmid is a genetic structure in a cell that can be used in the manipulation of genes. The pGLO plasmid in particular was engineered to produce a glowing protein that was, in this case, green.

Molecular genetics has been occupying scientists and making world headlines increasingly over the past few years.

Scientist Roger Tsien pioneered the concept of using green fluorescent protein (GFP) to track cellular processes as they happen.

A big breakthrough occured when Tsien came up with the idea to insert the GFP gene into an organism’s genome, so whenever that particular gene is expressed, the protein produced has a fluorescent tag attached to it. Find the glow, and you find the protein.

For his incredible discoveries, Tsien was awarded the 2004 Wolf Prize in Medicine, and the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

In recent years, the chemical manipulation of DNA has also helped determine the extent of bioaccumulation in organisms. Heather Braid from the University of Guelph used DNA barcodes to establish the presence of toxins in the cells and tissues of giant squids, a discovery that carries serious implications not only for the future of the squid, but for the marine environment as a whole.

Back at YHS, not only were the students successful in transforming the bacteria’s DNA, but also they were then able to purify the fluorescent protein (GFP), itself. Exclamations of “How cool!” could be heard from the biology lab as the girls shone the UV light over their samples. In the next few weeks, the students will be able to study this protein further.