Education has been a cornerstone of the Noble Research Institute since its inception. Founder Lloyd Noble established his organization in the post-Dust Bowl era to educate farmers and ranchers on ways to safeguard the soil to prevent future calamity.
In the fall of 2012, the Noble Research Institute created Noble Academy, centralizing its outreach and educational activities to deliver agriculture- and science-based education for students, from middle school through college.
"We want to demonstrate the importance of agriculture to society and the need for research to advance the industry," said Frank Hardin, Noble Academy manager. "We also strive to communicate the wide range of career opportunities in agriculture to students."
Noble Academy began working with Oklahoma teachers and education-related associations to expand its efforts to provide lessons to students through in-class demonstrations. These hands-on demonstrations are designed to fit into a teacher's lesson plans and are a simple but effective way to bring science and agricultural education together. "That's the trick to teaching, providing students with experiences," Hardin said. "That's the methodology behind Noble Academy give students tangible learning moments at the intersection of agriculture and science."
One of these experiential lessons is strawberry DNA extraction. DNA is the blueprint for life. Understanding it is the gateway to understanding life and how organisms function. Hardin uses strawberries because they have eight copies of each chromosome, making them well suited for the experiment. "Students studied DNA, but they've never actually experienced it," Hardin said. "By studying and understanding DNA, we can use this information to select for, breed, and produce plants that may ultimately improve food production and help us feed a growing population."
Download the step-by-step instructions for conducting an in-classroom strawberry DNA extraction.