Gene Machine opens new opportunities for SC students in science careers

By: Trishna Begam Email
By: Trishna Begam Email
Gene Machine

The Gene Machine travels around to South Carolina to teach students about genetics. (WRDW-TV / Jan. 11, 2012)

News 12 This Morning / Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- Latex gloves, protective glasses and a plastic apron. No, this isn't a a scene from an episode of CSI -- it's a classroom inside the Gene Machine in the parking lot of Aiken High School.

Aili Vinson, a junior at Aiken High explained, "We don't usually get to use the really expensive lab equipment."

Vinson has an eye for science.

"I actually want to major in genetics or biology when I go to college," she said.

Inside this mobile lab she's getting a first look at at her own DNA.

"It was interesting to see exactly how putting it in the centrifuge separates the cell," Vinson said.

Katie Henderson, an instructor inside the Gene Machine, explained why the mobile lab is so important.

"There are so many different opportunities available for students in science," she said. "If they get to see that while still in high school, they'll have a lot more of an idea where they want to go post high school."

Instructors from the Greenwood Genetic Center help students like Vinson understand the next generation of medicine by visiting schools throughout South Carolina. Inside the $400,000 classroom on wheels, student use tools like micropippettes, centrifuges and a little bit of their own spit.

One student especially appreciated using the tools.

"I like the fact that we got to use a centrifuge, because we study about them but never get to use them," said student Rylee Herrmann.

By viewing a bit of their own DNA, the Gene Machine is providing exposure to the field of genetics for the next generation of doctors and researchers.

"They don't necessarily have the funding now to have equipment," Henderson said. "We use lab-grade equipment."

The bus is on its second year of touring the state and visiting different schools. This school year, they are scheduled to visit 90 schools around South Carolina.

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