Midland College professor teams up with I-20 Wildlife Preserve t - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Midland College professor teams up with I-20 Wildlife Preserve to teach biology

Plant barcoding uses DNA to identify plant species (Source: KWES). Plant barcoding uses DNA to identify plant species (Source: KWES).
MIDLAND, TX (KWES) -

Midland College professors teamed up with the I-20 Wildlife Preserve to teach biology in a unique way. The professors recently traveled to Florida to share ideas and present their research modules to teachers across the country.

For three years, Midland College professors have been using a hands-on approach to teaching biology. Dr. Paul Mangum's class took a field trip to the I-20 Wildlife Preserve to identify as many plants as possible through DNA.

"The director out there was very welcoming and said, 'You can come on any time you wanted to and just use the facilities,'" said Mangum.

The technique is called DNA barcoding. 

"Students go out, find a plant they are interested in, take a small leaf sample and bring it back to the lab, extract DNA and we amplify a small piece of that," said Magnum.

The sample is then sent to a company who provides the DNA sequence. The student takes the sequence and uses an online database to identify the plant they've extracted from.

Mangum said the project is aimed at giving students real life research experience earlier on in their college career.

"Get the students away from a sort of a cookbook lab, where we knew what the results would be more to an actual exploration, where they could go out find a plant. They don't know what the identity is. I don't know what the identity is," said Mangum.

Midland College calls the I-20 barcode project noteworthy because it studies the impact of the wildlife preserve on West Texas plant species.

Copyright 2016 KWES. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly