Field Trips at HudsonAlpha

Explore genetics concepts and biotechnology careers with your class at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. Our hands-on, laboratory-based field trips put high-tech biotechnology tools in the hands of your students and engage them in scientific thinking. Each activity is tied to Alabama Course of Study standards. Please refer to the sections below for a description of our full and half day experiences as well as to learn more about costs and required number of chaperones. Box lunch from the Anita Loya Cafe in the HudsonAlpha atrium includes sandwich, chips, a cookie and a soda.

The HudsonAlpha teaching lab has workspace for a maximum of 32 students per event. To request a field trip for a group of 33 students or more, please contact Mrs. April Reis at areis@hudsonalpha.org. Costs are determined per event, not per student, with a minimum number of 10 participants.  

Investigating the Genetics of Cancer (5 hours)
In this full day lab-based experience, students will examine the genetic roots of cancer, compare hereditary and non-hereditary cancers and use the HNPCC kit to trace a cancer-related mutation through a family. In the lab, students will use a family medical history to create a pedigree and select likely candidates for genetic testing. Using gel electrophoresis, students will identify family members carrying the cancer‐linked mutation. Throughout the day, students will discuss ethical challenges related to genetic testing. This experience includes lunch (provided by the HudsonAlpha Bistro at an additional $8.75/student) and either a talk from a HudsonAlpha scientist or a tour.

Genetically Modified Snacks? (6.5 hours)
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are the subject of wide ranging debates in the US and in other countries. In this whole day experience, students will investigate genetic modifications on plants and examine common snack items for the presence of genetically modified corn or soybean. In the lab, students will extract DNA from snack foods and use PCR to amplify target regions and gel electrophoresis to analyze their results. Students will explore the ethical challenges related to genetic modification. This experience includes lunch (provided by the HudsonAlpha Bistro at an additional $8.75/student) and a tour of HudsonAlpha – including the Genome Sequencing Center where the soybean genome was completed.

Genes & ConSEQUENCES (5 hours)
Students will dive into the Central Dogma in this full-day computer based activity. Students will gain experience with DNA sequencing and look at how changes in key regions of DNA can cause disease. Using one of 15 case studies, students will practice DNA base pairing, transcription and translation. Students will create protein-folding models and discuss how changes in amino acid sequence may impact protein function. This experience includes lunch (provided by the HudsonAlpha Bistro at an additional $8.75/student), a tour of the Genome Sequencing Center, and a tour of another laboratory to discuss how sequencing data is used in modern genomic research.

Jumping Genes! PV92 Insertion (6 hours)
Alu insertion polymorphism is one of the more widely studied DNA polymorphisms, representing approximately 5% of the human genome. In this full-day, lab-based experience, students will be exposed to various laboratory skills and techniques while examining their own DNA for the presence/absence of an Alu element at a particular chromosome location.* This experience includes lunch (provided by the HudsonAlpha Bistro at an additional $8.75/student) and a tour of HudsonAlpha.

*Students’ samples will not be used outside of the educational context of this activity and a signed parental release form is required for participation. Download the activity permission form.

Cytogeneticist for a Day (1.5 hours)
In this half-day experience, students will take on the role of a cytogeneticist, examining patient samples for chromosomal anomalies. Students will learn how karyotypes are produced and work through one of 15 patients case studies, using HudsonAlpha’s Disorder Detectives kit, to create a karyotype. Along the way, HudsonAlpha instructors will lead students through discussion about the impact of chromosomal changes.

Extreme Extraction (1.5 hours)
Extracting DNA is a favorite activity for many students and teachers. In this half­‐day experience, students take DNA extractions to the next level by creating their own extraction solutions using common household items. Students will learn how cell structure impacts the extraction process and discuss why scientists extract DNA.

All in the Family – Or Is It? (2.5 hours)
In this half day, lab-based experience, students will examine the role of inherited mutations and environmental factors using the HNPCC kit. In the lab, students will use a family medical history to create a pedigree and select likely candidates for genetic testing. Using gel electrophoresis, students will identify family members carrying a cancer-linked mutation. Throughout the day, students will discuss ethical challenges related to genetic testing.

Genome Cache (1 hour) – Can be combined with other experiences and is weather dependent
Using the double helix sidewalks of McMillian Park, students investigate nearly 200 genetic points of interest along a human genome walk. The Genome Cache app provides clues to send students on a scavenger hunt through the genome. Students respond to genetic trivia questions to receive the next clue and compare their scores to the statewide leaderboard. Genome Caching is only available at certain times. Instructors interested in Genome Caching with their students should inquire about availability when scheduling a visit to HudsonAlpha.

Exploring Enzymes (1.5 hours)
In this half‐day, lab­-based activity, students will investigate enzymes. Students will begin by learning about enzyme specificity using locks and keys and discuss the role of enzymatic reactions during digestion of a fast food meal. In addition, students will evaluate several enzymes used in the production of apple juice or create cheese using enzymes produced by biotechnology.

Kitchen DNA with a Twist of Inquiry (1.5 hours)
Extracting DNA is a favorite activity for many students and teachers. In this half­‐day experience, students take DNA extractions to the next level by creating their own extraction solutions using common household items. Students will learn how cell structure impacts the extraction process and discuss why scientists extract DNA.

What is Biotechnology?  (1.5 hours)
In this half‐day experience, students are allowed to answer the question, “What is Biotechnology?” Students will investigate key events in the history of biotechnology and learn about its modern applications. In the lab, students will examine and use biotechnology tools such as micropipettes, gel electrophoresis, or protein assays.

Genome Cache (1 hour) – Can be combined with other experiences and is weather dependent
Using the double helix sidewalks of McMillian Park, students investigate nearly 200 genetic points of interest along a human genome walk. The Genome Cache app provides clues to send students on a scavenger hunt through the genome. Students respond to genetic trivia questions to receive the next clue and can compare their scores to the statewide leaderboard. Genome Caching is only available at certain times. Instructors interested in Genome Caching with their students should inquire about availability when scheduling a visit to HudsonAlpha.

Pricing and required number of chaperones for each experience:

Field trip experiences are made possible through support from the State of Alabama. Funding is available for Alabama public schools to offset HudsonAlpha-associated field trip expenses.* This funding will cover one full-day experience (or two half-day experiences combined) per school year, as well as lunch for up to 32 students and up to three chaperones. Middle school experiences and high school half-day experiences can be combined. When submitting your field trip request, please indicate your school name and type of school to note if you are eligible for funding.

*Transportation and substitute costs are excluded.