When Lauren Spector was in the fourth grade, she was diagnosed with a rare disease and spent a lot of time at Children’s Mercy. It was at this young age that she became interested in health care and science. As she got older, she wanted to find ways she could help other kids going through similar situations and joined the Teen Advisory Board at the hospital – a group of young adults who have experiences with clinical diagnoses and provide education and support to patients, family, and staff.
As a Teen Advisory Board member, she participated in a behind-the-scenes tour of the Children’s Mercy Research Institute (CMRI) that was under construction at the time, which inspired her even more. She knew the CMRI would be a place of hope for other families searching for answers and followed the progress of the building as she went off to college.
When the CMRI opened earlier this year, Lauren reached out to the CMRI leadership team to see how she could once again get involved. Her vision – to bring science directly to the kids staying in the hospital to show the connection between clinical care and research, especially as it relates to DNA.
“DNA is the key to all living things – humans, plants, animals and even the food we eat,” said Lauren. “I thought it would be fun to create a video to show kids how they could easily turn their hospital room or kitchen into a science lab by extracting DNA from a strawberry.”
Lauren explained that ripe strawberries are an excellent source for extracting DNA because they have eight copies of DNA, while humans only have two making it easier to see strawberry DNA with the naked eye.
Grab the following supplies and follow along with Lauren to see for yourself how fun and easy science can be!
- 3 strawberries
- 1/3 cup water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon dish soap
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Ziploc® bag
- Butter knife (or something to stir with)
Lauren is a junior at Kansas State University and is studying integrative physiology and kinesiology, and wants to be an occupational therapist for special needs adults.
Learn more about the Teen Advisory Board at Children’s Mercy.
Learn more about our Genomic Answers for Kids program and how our researchers sequence DNA in search of finding answers and novel treatments for pediatric genetic conditions.