HIGH POINT, N.C., Feb. 21, 2019 – Students from High Point Central High School walked out of the science labs in Couch Hall at High Point University with a truly one-of-a-kind work of art.
On Feb. 16, a group of high schoolers spent a Saturday collaborating with undergraduate science majors at HPU on experiments intended to spark their creativity. One of the experiments resulted in necklaces the students could wear, personalized with their own DNA.
This experiment day is part of an annual project, HPU’s Cell-Art Collaborative, started four years ago by Dr. Veronica Segarra, assistant professor of biology. It gives local high school and HPU students the opportunity to collaborate and explore the ways science and art can be integrated.
“We love to open the doors of the undergraduate sciences at HPU to the community so that we can share our love for the natural world and experiments,” says Segarra. “We hope that some of the community participants get inspired to further explore science, and we hope that our undergrads enjoy the process of communicating science and mentoring others.”
The HPU students showed their partners the ropes, leading them in conducting experiments with a neuroscience focus, including microscopy, DNA isolation and brain dissections.
Olivia Armendarez, a freshman biology major, helped the students extract DNA from cheek cells for the necklaces.
“My favorite part was seeing how amazed the students were with how easy it was to extract DNA, and seeing how much fun they had during the process,” says Armendarez. “They kept us on our toes with their questions about the experiment, and we sent them home with a piece of their own DNA around their necks. It will be exciting to see what artwork this experience inspires.”
The high school students who participated in the experiment day will use the knowledge obtained and observations made to produce a work of art of their choice, whether that be in music, literature or studio. Their resulting works will be displayed at the Cell-Art Collaborative Showcase on April 13.
“I thought it would be a fun way to volunteer and do some interesting labs,” says freshman biology major Caitlyn Bontempo, who also helped with the DNA experiment. “I am very interested in science and art, so this project was the perfect opportunity to get involved with the local community while doing something that I love. The students were very excited to participate, and it was fun to get to know them.”
The Cell-Art Collaborative Showcase will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 13 in Room 3027 of the Congdon School of Health Sciences. The event is open to the public. The students’ artwork will be on display, and featured speaker and scholar-artist Julia Hoel Buntaine will talk about the ways in which she has been inspired to integrate science into her art.