Sunlight, Water, Patience & DNA Testing
Joanne Pappas’ Pre-K classroom is widely known and beloved for its profusion of living things, natural artifacts, and child-crafted treasures. Those familiar with it will not be surprised to learn that 18 years ago, Mrs. Pappas was already in the habit of periodically squeezing fresh citrus juice for students right in the classroom. Two students at the time, Corey King '11 and Ronnie Kemperle '11, developed a ritual of tossing seeds from any fruit into a flower pot with soil. For years, Mrs. Pappas continued to water the pot and eventually a beautiful plant with dark green waxy leaves appeared. Perhaps with the aid of Green Vale’s own fresh compost, this year, the mystery plant has borne its first fruit: the shape of a lemon, the size of a grapefruit, green rind turning to yellow. The Green Vale Science teachers were quick to connect the Pre-K citrus oddity with their new 7th Grade program of DNA barcoding and identification of species found on Green Vale’s campus. Using equipment at Cold Spring Harbor Labs, 7th Grade students used PCR (polymerase chain reaction) as well as electrophoresis techniques to conclude that the plant is related to the kumquat.