Celebrating Science at the Coriell Institute Science Fair


This Saturday, the Coriell Institute for Medical Research will host one of its longest-held traditions, the Coriell Institute Science Fair.

Now in its 37th year, the Science Fair brings together hundreds of students from Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester counties to demonstrate their scientific curiosity and prowess in front of judges in hopes of taking home an award and potentially moving onto the Delaware Valley Science Fair. Coriell cherishes this event because it provides an opportunity to meet the next generation of local young scientists.

Dr. Lewis Coriell, the founder of Coriell Institute, recognized how important it is to reach out to the community and share our passion for science. The science fair is the predominant way we accomplish this goal. Winners from the fair have gone onto compete at the Delaware Valley Science Fair as well as prestigious national science fairs and a few have joined our staff.

This year’s fair will also celebrate National DNA Day, another important scientific holiday. Organized each year by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), DNA Day gives all of us – non-scientists included – a chance to mark the discovery of DNA’s molecular structure in 1953 and the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 (which was supported by the Coriell Institute). These discoveries are among the biggest breakthroughs in the scientific investigation of the most basic building blocks of life.

To celebrate these momentous achievements, the students of each year’s Science Fair participate in a hands-on activity which teaches them about DNA structure, and its importance to biology. In past years, students have extracted DNA from strawberries using household goods and last year, to better visualize how a long strand of DNA can fit into a tiny cell, students worked together to fit long pieces of string (representing DNA) into pill capsules (representing a cell’s nucleus). This year, the focus will again be on the structure of DNA itself as students tackle DNA origami and construct the DNA double helix using pipe cleaners and beads.

This year’s Coriell Institute Science Fair is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Michael F. Christman, the former President and CEO of Coriell, who sadly passed away in December. The Coriell Institute Science Fair was a point of pride for Dr. Christman, who drew inspiration from the talented students he interacted with.

It is in Dr. Christman’s memory, and the vision of our founder Dr. Coriell, that we continue this tradition for the benefit of our community.

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