Young scientists get hands-on experience with DNA -- of a strawberry [Loch Raven]

Fifth-graders at Halstead Academy and Pleasant Plains Elementary School had the opportunity to participate in a DNA extraction of a strawberry as an extension to their wee beasties science unit. High school students from Randallstown High, Baltimore County's Bio-Technology magnet school, traveled to both elementary schools to help the fifth-graders with the lab project.

Randallstown high students will continue to work with the elementary students who expressed interest and applied for a high school mentor to help them with various hands-on science projects throughout the year.

For both the high school and elementary students, the unit continued with a visit to the Columbia Center through Towson University where the young scientists used gel electrophoresis to investigate sickle cell anemia under the direction of Dr. Mary Stapleton, Director of Bioscience, Education and Outreach.

Before the partnership concludes, astronaut Don Thomas will provide the students with information about science investigations that have taken place aboard space shuttle missions.

Margaret Peeling, resource teacher at Halstead and Pleasant Plains, summarized the program saying, "This Internship/Mentorship program between the schools prepares all participants for success in the 21st century and takes the STEM program at these schools to a new level as both the students, mentors and interns are actively engaged as critical thinkers and real-world problem solvers."

Soon spring will be sprouting on the grounds of Babcock Presbyterian Church, 8240 Loch Raven Boulevard, when Loch Raven residents sow seeds and plant seedlings to grow vegetable and flowers on the church property.

For a one-time fee of $20, gardeners are provided with a plot of ground and access to watering hoses and reap the fruits of their labor.

Chris Sartor, Babcock member explained "Babcock Church's goal is to be good stewards of the land entrusted to our care. The ground is fertile and gets great sun throughout the day and is in a convenient location."

This is the third year the church has provided the land but this year they are expanding the project. An area in the center of the garden will be used to grow vegetables for food pantries and soup kitchens in the area. All participants are invited to help grow food for the needy by donating time, seed and/or plants.

An organizational meeting will be held at the church on Monday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the church's fellowship hall. For more information or to reserve a plot, contact Chris Sartor at 410-823-8976.

You can support the Red Cross by signing up for the community blood drive to be held at Immaculate Heart of Mary (corner of Putty Hill Avenue and Loch Raven Boulevard) on Thursday, March 21 from 1 to 7 p.m. in Cartwright Hall. Call Gary Brown at 410 663 4357 for information or an appointment.

Grab that Easter basket and the kids ages three through third grade and head over to the 49th annual Easter egg hunt at Pleasant Plains Elementary School, 8300 Pleasant Plains Road, on Saturday, March 23 at 10:30a.m. sharp (rain date March 30 10:30am). Candy eggs for all participants and prizes for lucky winners.

The event is sponsored by The Loch Raven Optimist, Loch Raven Village Association, Knettishall Community Association, Greater Loch Raven Recreation Council and Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks. This is a popular event and over the years the sponsoring agencies have put out an estimated 35,000 eggs!

In honor of St Patrick's Day, and for the entire month of March, all green items at the thrift shop at Arnolia United Methodist Church, 1776 East Joppa Road, will be 50 percent off. The shop is open every Monday and Thursday and the second Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. Proceeds benefit eligible Parkville residents with support for BGE payments and preventing evictions.

Contact me by Sunday to read your Loch Raven news here.

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