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April 2012
Contents / home
Largest Easter Egg Hunt
Zoo e-News scoops award
Sungazers a tough challenge
Translocation of wildlife
A creature worth protecting
Surprise find at Mokopane
Relocating Buffalo
Flamingos spruce up nests
African penguin survival
Nutrition and disease in captive cheetahs
Paul Bartels elected to international ISBER Council
DNA uncovered!
Exploring nuclear energy
Education going places!
Meet the Red river hog
Conservation Grapevine

DNA uncovered!

The National Zoo recently hosted a number of courses titled "Biotechnology: Discovering DNA". The courses were funded by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) to bring biotechnology to learners in an understandable way.

A total of 430 learners and 16 Life Science facilitators from the Gauteng Department of Education attended the courses, which were presented by the NZG's Department of Conservation Education and Public Engagement.

Justice Bilankulu, an education officer of the National Zoological Gardens demystifies DNA.   An NZG education officer assists Grade 12 learners to extract DNA from their cheeks for an experiment.
Fledgling scientists enjoy the hands-on learning activities.

The interactive programme allowed learners to explore the structure of DNA molecules as well as DNA heredity. They had to analyse six different DNA samples collected from a hypothetical crime scene to learn how DNA fingerprinting is used in forensics studies.

Learners also had an opportunity to gain practical knowledge by extracting DNA from their own cheek epithelium cells, a procedure they thoroughly enjoyed!

Feedback from educators and learners

"The lecture was very informative and delivered professionally. The lecturer captured his audience with the way in which he conveyed complicated information regarding DNA and Genetics - his explanations were simple, humorous and enjoyable. The extraction of DNA experiment was also enjoyed tremendously! Again it was simple enough for learners to understand and enjoy. They were very excited with the end results and some were in awe of seeing the chromatin network! To be able to take it home was their highlight of the day.

"My experience at the zoo was amazing. It was thought provoking and increased our knowledge of DNA and monohybrid crossings. Justice Bilankulu was an outstanding host, allowing us freedom to explore our ideas on DNA. He answered our questions with expertise. The food was amazing and the arrangements for the day excellent. Thank you." Glory Tambwe, educator

"The workshop was a wonderful experience. Although we had learnt about DNA and Genetics in class, the presentation made it so much easier to understand. The DNA experiment was amazing! I never knew I could see my DNA with my naked eyes! The food was great. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity." Malente Modungwa, learner

"The zoo experience was really amazing. The lecturer explained everything so simply that, even though I don't take Life Science, I understood and didn't feel left out." Reamogetse Molepa, learner

Claire Fordred, Intern, NZG

Zoo and Aquarium Visitor