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Monday, October 20, 2014

Students use DNA to trace ancestry

Sarina Trangle
Posted
Osjua A. Newton/The Riverdale Press
National Geographic explorer-in-residence Spencer Wells speaks to Riverdale Country School eighth graders about using DNA to show how humans came to populate every corner of the world on Feb. 21.

This is not your average history class.

At Riverdale Country School, eighth graders are uncovering the routes their own ancestors took out of Africa, while simultaneously helping scientists discover how humans came to populate every corner of the globe.

For the past two years, the school has raised money for National Geographic’s genographic project, which uses differences in DNA from indigenous communities to map out the various waves of migration people took after evolving in Africa 200,000 years ago.

Two sets of eighth graders helped finance the project, which involves purchasing kits to test their own DNA. Students have fundraised $900 so far and they aim to collect $2,000 by the end of the school year, according to eighth-grade history teacher Jessica Shapiro.

Genographic director Spencer Wells and his team finance the Legacy Fund by selling DNA analysis kits, which allow people to learn about their own ancestors’ journey out of Africa.

Riverdale Country School bought the kits and submitted swabs of students’ cheek cells for analysis this January.

During a Feb. 21 visit to the school, Mr. Wells thanked the students for their support and explained his reThis is not your average history class.

At Riverdale Country School, eighth graders are uncovering the routes their own ancestors took out of Africa, while simultaneously helping scientists discover how humans came to populate every corner of the globe.

For the past two years, the school has raised money for National Geographic’s genographic project, which uses differences in DNA from indigenous communities to map out the various waves of migration people took after evolving in Africa 200,000 years ago.

Two sets of eighth graders helped finance the project, which involves purchasing kits to test their own DNA. Students have fundraised $900 so far and they aim to collect $2,000 by the end of the school year, according to eighth-grade history teacher Jessica Shapiro.

Genographic director Spencer Wells and his team finance the Legacy Fund by selling DNA analysis kits, which allow people to learn about their own ancestors’ journey out of Africa.

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