03/10/06 — Students use DNA to trace geneology

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Students use DNA to trace geneology

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on March 10, 2006 1:50 PM

Some area high school students recently used DNA technology to trace their genealogy.

Spring Creek High School students, staff and administrators began taking part in National Geographic Society's "Genographic Project."

The project is part of a five-year study that will allow National Geographic to catalog the migration patterns of humans and secure the last remaining samples of undisturbed genetic material from indigenous populations in the world. Also in the partnership are IBM and the Waitt Family Foundation, with the goal to create the world's largest database on human genetics.

Spring Creek High School's "World View" teacher Scott Hardy said that National Geographic sent a test kit to each student and staff member participating.

"The kits included a Buccal swab test. The student will swab their inner cheek and place a swab back into test tubes for analysis. National Geographic scientists will then analyze the present genetic material and produce for the student a genetic map," he explained.

The genetic maps "will trace where the students' genetic markers encoded in their DNA originated from. Literally, the students could possibly trace their ancestry back 60,000 years!" he said.

Spring Creek was able to purchase 10 of the DNA kits through the "World View" program. The kits cost around $100 each. Students expect to get their DNA test results back in three weeks.

The Genographic Project is a great way for students to get excited about culture and world history, said Dean Sauls, the school system's lead social studies teacher.

"Students participating will have to research the tribes, clans, nations, and regions they descended from. It will also allow students and staff participating to have their DNA information used to help scientists better understand the history of man," he said.