Remix, Remake, Curate

Learning with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Tar River Writing Project, & The Poetry Project

Make Cycle 3 Wrap-Up: The Codes of Life

We’re excited to see posts continue to come in on Google+, but it’s time to wrap up this make cycle as we prepare for the next.

We started this make cycle by extracting DNA from strawberries, and we were treated to a time-lapse video of Mike and Elliott Flinchbaugh’s home DNA extraction, as well as photos of the process from Mrs. Pagona’s students, strawberry DNA sculptures from Rob Puckett’s students, and even some images  of the DNA we extracted under a cell phone microscope. Visit  Remix, Remake, Curate on Google+ to see more.

We wrote poetry, individually and collaboratively, during our Twitter chat, in making DNA poem sculptures, and by extracting poems from articles about DNA.

Learning about DNA was a big part of this make cycle – we learned about the microscopes capable of seeing DNA, DNA media storage, dinosaur DNA at NCSU, our own Neanderthal DNA, cloned pigs, genetic modification, designer babies, and much more.

And, towards the end of this make cycle, we started exploring the ethical implications of working with DNA by imagining gene-spliced animals (is it a kion or a langaroo?) and crowdsourcing topics for articles on ethical issues in DNA.

DNA might be the path to it, but rest assured, we have no plans for this:


Rob Puckett’s Strawberry DNA meme.

As a reminder, here are some places to share and connect:

  • Join our Google+ Community, Remix, Remake, Curate. Post your thoughts, questions, ideas, and especially your young people’s work here.
  • On Twitter, we encourage you to follow and use the #imakesci hashtag. Keep using #imicro if you’re continuing to explore DNA. We also sometimes post pictures to Instagram under #imakesci or the tags for each make cycle.
  • If you have a blog, you can make and create in your own digital space and share to the community on Twitter with the #imakesci hashtag or the G+ community Remix, Remake, Curate.

For More Info

Coming up

Feel free to keep extracting DNA, sharing poems, posting pictures, and slicing genes in our G+ community at any time! Feel free to jump in on this cycle if you are new or just keep going with it.  Be on the lookout for the next make cycle, on HTML coding and web making, which starts this evening.


Thanks for participating – your contributions are inspiring, and it’s been exciting to know that we’re exploring a really complex scientific concept, like DNA, with participants from elementary school all the way to college and beyond.

Make Cycle 3 Facilitators,

Christy Flint, Trey Gass, and Jennifer Smyth



Welcome to Make Cycle 3: The Codes of Life

Welcome to Week 3 of our second year of Remix, Remake, Curate!  For the next two weeks, we will explore DNA.  We will focus on DNA coding, which allows for the massive storage of information on a cellular level.  It can be surprising to discover how much data, or information, is stored in our own bodies. You will get a chance to extract DNA , a technique used by scientists who work with DNA regularly (such as crime lab technicians).

As with the last make cycle in this MOOC, you are welcome to join in where you can, tackle the makes that appeal to you, get out of your comfort zone and try something new, or show off skills you already have.

Make with me

During this make cycle, we suggest the following activities to guide an investigation of DNA.

Learn from the experts.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s BioInteractive DNA Resource Collection includes a wealth of resources, but for general background about DNA and its discovery, check out the short film The Double Helix:

The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center includes a site dedicated to information about genetic disorders, and a series of  tutorials and games about the structure of DNA.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center also provides links to interactive resources about DNA, including information about the Human Genome Project:

Part 1: DNA Extraction

In the video below, Deb Bailey and Christy Flint, of the NC Museum of Natural Science’s Micro World Investigation Lab, walk us through the process of extracting DNA from strawberries. You can extract DNA from all kinds of living things – wheat, strawberries, and bananas are among the easiest.

If you’d like a written walk-through of the process, that’s available here. Show us what the DNA you extracted looks like by sharing a picture of your results through a tweet or post on our Google+ community.

If you would like to try a more challenging extraction, follow the directions in this YouTube video produced by NOVA to a very, very small amount of your own DNA by using a scraping from the inside of your cheek.  Don’t forget to share your results or some more ideas by posting them on our Google+ community. To learn more about the DNA molecule, check out this DNA Factsheet from the National Institute of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute.

Part 2: Extracted Poem

The process of extracting DNA from strawberries is much like the process of pulling a found poem from longer text. Check out these found, or extracted, poems on Pinterest – some of them are creating interesting images (as well as using interesting imagery).

As you examine these poems, consider the following questions:

  • How do you think the authors of these poems are deciding what words to keep?
  • How do the words they choose express a theme or central idea?
  • What strategies can we borrow from the authors of these poems?
  • In what ways do the images drawn on the page reflect the central idea of the poem?
  • What images might we use to reflect our ideas about DNA?

We invite you to create your own found poems using articles about DNA coding (for articles, check out the Resources section below). You can print paper copies of the articles to work with, or you can use digital tools to make a found poem by taking screenshots of the articles and using a drawing or image application, like MS Paint, GIMP, Pixlr, PicMonkey, Finger Draw, or You Doodle to isolate text and create an overlaying image. We’re pretty sure you know of some tools that we’re not aware of yet, and can’t wait to see what you use to make your found poems. If you find a new tool, make sure you share it in our Google + community.

Part 3: DNA Coding

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 12.08.21 PMYour DNA houses the information that made you, that shaped your development and continues to shape your interactions with the world around you on a biological level – those instructions are complex, and there’s a multitude of information in each cell of our bodies. In order to be stored in such a small space, that information gets encoded (much like the information stored in our computers is encoded, represented by 1s and 0s).

Despite being made up of only four different nucleotide bases (Adenine, Thymine, Guanine and Cytosine), the fact that individual DNA molecules can be made up of thousands to hundreds of thousands to millions of bases results in the almost incalculable number of possible arrangements of A’s and T’s and G’s and C’s. Due to its versatility, scientists are now beginning to explore using DNA as a storage medium, translating data into DNA code and recording entire books in fragments of DNA.

To decode the information stored in a cell’s DNA, the cell must first transcribe the DNA into a molecule called RNA (ribonucleic acid). The RNA then gets translated into a protein, which is made up of a sequence of amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids and proteins are made up of unique combinations of these amino acid building blocks. Amino acids are coded for by sequences of three DNA or RNA nucleotide bases, known as codons. There are 64 possible codons, so some amino acids are coded for by more than one codon.

You can experiment with using this kind of coding by translating your name into DNA online or with paper and pencil. You can post comments to our Google+ community in DNA code, and read others’ comments by copying them and translating them back to plain text. For further exploration, check out this Transcription and Translation Tool to translate RNA, DNA, and proteins. If you want a low-tech, paper and pencil version of the code, we also have one of those. See what the text of your found poem looks like in DNA code, or write a new poem and publish it in DNA code – the possibilities are endless! Be sure you share your DNA-coded writing in our Google+ community.

Part 4: Collaborative DNA Poems/Sculptures

IMG_0191 2

For our collaborative DNA Poems/ Sculptures, you’ll work with others  to write and assemble a poem that will serve as a three-dimensional model of DNA. Materials like sentence strips, dowel rods, cardboard, hot glue guns, duct tape, or any other materials you can think of will prove useful here.

Step 1: Punnett Squares

Trey Gass, of the Poetry Project, walks us through this step in the video below.

You may also want to use our Punnett Square template.

Step 2: Making Base Pairs

If you don’t have access to sentence strips, card stock, index cards, or chart paper can also work.

Step 3: Codons and DNA Models

Part of the fun is collaborating to make the model stand on it’s own – we can’t wait to see the solutions you engineer for your own poems!

We’ll continue posting links to articles, resources and other materials throughout the make cycle, so be on the lookout for more information in our Google+ community.

Materials and Inspirations

  • Camera or phone
  • Computer with internet connectivity
  • DNA Extraction:
    • One zipper-style sandwich bag
    • ¼ cup water
    • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    • ¼ teaspoon unseasoned meat tenderizer
    • 1 teaspoon Lemon Joy liquid dish soap
    • 1 fresh, ripe strawberry or one frozen strawberry (allow enough time to thaw a bit) or one 2-inch piece of ripe banana or 1 teaspoon raw wheat germ
    • One 9-oz clear plastic cup (or any clear container that will hold at least 1 cup)
    • One spoon
    • 2 tablespoons of cold 91% Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) – keep in freezer until needed
    • One paperclip, unbent into the shape of a hook
    • If extracting strawberry DNA:
      • an extra 9-oz cup to collect strawberry pulp
    • If extracting banana DNA:
      • One coffee filter
      • One funnel (or one rubber band and an extra 9-oz cup with a large hole in the bottom)
  • Articles for found poems:
  • Web resources for DNA coding:
  • Collaborative DNA model/poem:
    • Directions
    • Sentence strips
    • Cardboard
    • Dowel or other bracing support

Places to Share and Live Events

These are some of the handy links and places we’ve been using to share and connect.

  • In Google Plus (G+), we hope you have all joined our Remix, Remake, Curate G+ community
  • On Twitter, we encourage you to follow and use the #imakesci.
  • If you have a blog, you can make and create in your own digital space and share to the community on twitter with the #imakesci hashtag or the G+ community

Want to know more about DNA coding? Join us on Friday, April 8 at 12:30 pm EST as we are hosting a Google Hangout to explore DNA coding with Dr. Christy Flint, coordinator of the Micro World Investigate Lab at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.

We would also like to invite you to join us for a Twitter Chat throughout the day on Tuesday, April 12 (9:15-9:30; 10:45-11:00; 12:30-12:45; 2:00-2:15) where we will be writing a collaborative DNA-themed poem.

New to all this tech?  Check out Getting Started with Google Hangouts in the Guide to Social Tools section of the TRWPConnect blog.

For More Info


We hope you delight in using what you have learned about DNA extraction and coding, and we hope you enjoy coding your own DNA poems.


Make Cycle 3 Facilitators,

Christy Flint, Trey Gass, and Jennifer Smyth

Make Cycle 3 Wrap-Up: Collecting Nature, Science, and Memory

Nature, Adaptation, and Evolution

It seems fitting that the third make cycle of Remix, Remake and Curate, focused on collecting memories of the natural world, coincided with a major weather event, giving us even more opportunities to make nature memories. It’s not over yet – one of the advantages of a MOOC is that we can continue to share, post, and collect even after the make cycle wraps. We can adapt the MOOC to fit our own needs. The MOOC evolves.


Though we’re posting the wrap-up now, we know that more poems and memories are coming – we can’t wait to see and respond to them, but we’re also excited to see how our next make cycle, #imicro, crystallizes.

We want to thank everyone for sharing their own memories of the natural world. It was really interesting to see all of the different tools and genres these memories were shared in – video, audio, meme, slideshow, comic, journal, narrative, and more. As we continue into the next make cycle, Making Growth Crystal Clear, we hope that you will continue to share memories and write more poetry as we think about the importance of collecting specimens from both the natural world and our own memories.

We know more awesomeness is coming, but let’s take a moment to highlight some of the awesome things we’ve seen already this make cycle:


ShelbyThe MOOC evolves!

New facilitators have already started sharing new activities, tools, and challenges.  We encourage you to keep making and posting your poems and memories to #inatsci. We hope you also think of new ways to integrate technology with the natural world as you create and share on Twitter and G+. We would love for you to share your own ideas and resources to inspire others to do the same. Just use the #inatsci category in Google+ and the #imakesci & #inatsci hashtags on Twitter.  Feel free to keep exploring and collecting memories, or push ahead into the next make cycle.  This is your MOOC experience–it’s up to you!


As a reminder, here are some places to share and connect:

  • Join our Google+ Community, Remix, Remake, Curate. Post your thoughts, questions, ideas, and especially your young people’s work here. Record student poetry, share their observations, let them see what other kids are doing, and share feedback to their work.
  • On Twitter, we encourage you to follow and use the #imakesci hashtag. Keep using #inatsci if you’re continuing to make or share resources related to nature memories.
  • If you have a blog, you can make and create in your own digital space and share to the community on Twitter with the #imakesci hashtag or the G+ community Remix, Remake, Curate.

For More Info

Coming up

Check out the Make Cycle 4: Making Growth Crystal Clear (#imicro) newsletter.  We’re excited to roll out this new make cycle that focuses on seeing growth on a micro level.  As always, we’re happy to help you think through technology sticky points, fuzzy ideas, potential collaborations, and classroom implementations. Just let us know how we can help!


Make Cycle 2 Facilitators – Daniel Niece, Debra Pagona, Jennifer Smyth , Josephus Thompson III , and Steven Turner

Make Cycle 3: Collecting Nature, Science, and Memory

Welcome to #inatsci, Week 3 of Remix, Remake, Curate. For the first two weeks of the MOOC, we’ve been exploring the natural world and our place in it, by bioblitzing our way into citizen science, visualizing the human soundscape of our own voices, and writing poetry about our experiences. This week we’re going to be exploring how art and natural science connect by collecting our own memories about nature and using them as inspiration for our own poems.

Make Cycle 3:  Collecting Nature, Science, and Memory

Scientific progress and the success of future research depends on scientific collections, in which specimen samples are stored for the purpose of research and knowledge. These collections include artifacts, natural history samples (rocks, plants, animals), living collections, and recently have begun to include DNA extraction.  In each of our minds we have a similar collection of stored images, sounds, smells, tastes, and even feelings of nature.  Some of these come from nature walks, our own homes and yards, television, the internet, or even our dreams.  Explore the resources listed here as you ask yourself this essential question: What is my nature story?

As you begin to find the answer to that question, explore the options below as a way to help tell your story.  We also hope you  take it to the next level by remixing it with poetry (see the video shared below) as well as anything else you create and share it on our Google +  Community page.  We hope you’ll also consider joining our Google Hangout with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to interact with other participants and learn about the museum’s collection on Tuesday, February 17 from 10:00-10:40 or from 2:10-2:50 and help us write a crowdsourced poem during our Twitter chat session beginning on Wednesday morning at 8:45-9:00 (and continuing throughout the day at #inatsci ).

We can’t wait to hear your story!  Use the tools and information below to get you started.

Make With Me: Collecting Stories

We suggest the following activities to guide your exploration of collecting.

  • Listen to Ann Smith and Karen Linehan’s shared nature memories, documented through StoryCorps.
  • Collect your own nature memories. To collect your memories, try one or more of these options, or create your own:

Explore Museum Resources

  • Check out this video of the Naturalist Lab at the NC Natural Science Museum, a hands-on lab space dedicated to exploring some of the thousands of specimens in the museum’s collection.
  • Use the Natural Science Museum’s Online Collections Database to explore the museum’s collection and find out more about the taxonomy and expand your knowledge about the facts behind your nature story. It’s searchable by taxonomy and location, and you can even map your search results.
  • Explore this PowerPoint created to help you understand the role of museum collections.

Explore Additional Resources

Making Poetry

Check out the video below, in which The Poetry Project’s Josephus Thompson III walks us through the process of turning our nature memories into poems.

You can also join us for our Twitter chat, Wednesday starting at 8:45, as we write a poem together using the hashtag #inatsci . We’ll post a Storify of the poem to the Remix, Remake, Curate Google+ Community that evening.

Materials and Inspiration

  • Computer with internet connectivity
  • Camera
  • Drawing materials
  • Writing materials – paper, pen, etc.

Places to Share

Just a reminder, here are the handy links to places we’ve been using to share and connect.

  • Join our Google+ Community, Remix, Remake, Curate. Post your thoughts, questions, ideas, and especially your students’ work here. Record student poetry, share their observations, and let them see what other kids are doing.
  • Join our Google Hangout on Tuesday, February 17 from 10:00 to 10:40 or from 2:10 to 2:50.  We’ll talk with Steven Turner of the Naturalist Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, who will share some of the specimens in the museum’s collection.
  • On Twitter, we encourage you to follow and use the #inatsci and #imakesci hashtags. Share resources throughout the week, and write a poem with us on Wednesday, February 18 starting at 8:45am.
  • If you have a blog, you can make and create in your own digital space and share to the community on Twitter with the #imakesci hashtag or the G+ community Remix, Remake, Curate.

For More Info


When you decide to conclude your investigation with us, we hope that you have a clearer picture of how museums help us to collect the stories of the natural world.  We also hope you begin to see yourself as a scientist helping collect those stories in your everyday life.  After all, we can all contribute to science just by observing and documenting the natural world we all share.


Make Cycle 2 Facilitators – Daniel Niece, Debra Pagona, Jennifer Smyth , Josephus Thompson III , and Steven Turner