By Kimberly Ho ’16
Extracting worms from a petri dish, the AP Biology class analyzed a worm’s nervous system on how a single stimulus can trigger different responses at Rockefeller University on May 21.
“The purpose of this trip was to expose the students to real science research,” said Ms. Jessica Ross, AP Biology teacher.
The students got to work with scientist Dr. Elizabeth Waters and used worms known as C. Elegans, which are one millimeter. The purpose was to test if the worms knew that benzaldehyde, a colorless liquid with the odor of bitter almonds, was simply a liquid and not real almonds.
“Being able to work with actual lab equipment and becoming a scientist for a day was an eye opening experience,” said Sharon Li ’16.
For practice, the students washed the worms and placed them on an assay plate. First, the students extracted the worms from the petri dish by adding a wash buffer, a saline solution, and using a micropipette. Then, they placed the worms into a microtube and waited three minutes until the worms settled to the bottom of the tube. Next, they took out the old buffer and replaced it with new buffer. They repeated this three times.
“My favorite part of the trip was washing the worms,” said Daniela Lara ’16. “I hesitated at first, but it felt very soothing and relaxing after a while.”
The students placed two solutions called vehicle and benzaldehyde onto the assay plate. The vehicle solution was a marker with no food, while the benzaldehyde was a marker with the food for the worms. The assay plate was labeled with three boxes: S for Start, V for Vehicle and B for Benzaldehyde.
The students placed the worms onto the assay plate and waited for an hour. Then, the assay plates were placed into a chloroform solution in incubation for 15 minutes.
Next the students repeated those steps to do their experiment with two sets of worms and added a benzaldehyde buffer to the microtubes. They placed the tube in a rotator for an hour to mix the worms with the benzaldehyde buffer.
They repeated all the steps with the assay plate and incubation. At the end of the day, they counted how many worms moved to each box. About 70 to 150 worms on the plate moved despite having benzaldehyde buffer inside of them.
“The facilities were really nice,” said Helen Wong ’15. “But I think what was most interesting about the trip was that we got to work with living organisms and see how they behaved.”
By Kimberly Ho ’16