STUDY A DAY AT THE UMH
This program was launched at the Miguel Hernandez University (UMH) in 2006 by the Vice Rector of Students. This initiative is proposed for students of Secondary Education (or High School), the pre-university courses in Spain.
The university invites schools to visit one of the four campuses (Elche, San Juan, Orihuela and Altea, all in Alicante Province, South-East of Spain) and offers several laboratory practical sessions of 1,5-2 hours corresponding to the subjects Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Geology and Mathematics. These subjects are taught in Secondary Education. The Genetics and Plant Breeding area of the UMH offered the practical session ‘DNA Extraction’, within the subject Biology. This session is also taught in the course Genetics and Plant Breeding of the third year of the Agricultural Engineer Degree. The SDS method was used, based on that described by Dellaporta et al. (1983). The method was described for Arabidopsis thaliana, but we have successfully used in tomato using the most tender leaflets of the plant. This method stands out for its simplicity and speed, and use a low number of non dangerous reagents and few steps. Average quality extractions are achieved, which contains both DNA and RNA, sufficient for the PCR reactions. The precipitate obtained after all steps is completely white, and students can see the final result of the extraction, the small white pellet. We adapted the protocol and language to the knowledge level of the students. These practical sessions give us the opportunity to introduce the main concepts related to the practical applications of Plant Breeding. Since the beginning of the program we have received between 10 and 20 institutes (per year?), with between 15 and 25 students per group. Satisfaction surveys conducted by teachers and students after receiving the practical session have been very favorable.