He took a DNA test in search of his birth father — and found a daughter instead!
February 14, 2019
By Elizabeth Chuck and Shako Liu
Click HERE to access the article.
Click HERE to access the article.
By Rebecca Dravis – iBerkshires Staff – Sunday, March 03, 2019
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Before Tyler DeWitt did a TED Talk, before he had a website and a YouTube channel, before he received his Ph.D. in microbiology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before he taught high school chemistry and biology in both the United States and South Korea, before he was a National Science Foundation fellow, he was just a student at Pine Cobble School.
On Feb. 27, DeWitt returned to the private school from which he graduated in 1997. It wasn’t his first time back; he actually spoke at the school’s commencement ceremony in 2013 and helped facilitate a STEAM summer camp session in 2018. And as often as he can, he comes back to Pine Cobble to try to make science fun for this generation of students.
And so on Feb. 27, in front of the school’s students who were as little as pre-K and kindergarteners and as big as eighth- and ninth-graders, DeWitt bounced around the room to give an energetic science lesson on a subject that could potentially be scary: DNA.
That’s deoxyribonucleic acid, not something to do with the “appetite of dinosaurs,” as one student suggested.
“You can see why people use the abbreviation,” DeWitt said.
Using a combination of slides and audience participation, an energetic DeWitt walked the students through the meaning of DNA. DNA determines a person’s traits or characteristics, like eye color or height, or even the characteristics of a plant, like what color flowers it has or how big its leaves are. DNA is found in every part of the body, in the nucleus of cells, he said, showing pictures of cells magnified to give the students a clearer idea of what he was talking about.
“They’re so tiny that you need hundreds or thousands to see even one,” he said.
The best science, of course, is hands-on, and so DeWitt came prepared to lead the students on an exploration of their own DNA. He wasn’t able to do that during his presentation, as they ran out of time, but he demonstrated with his own body and assured the students he was providing their teachers the materials they needed to do the experiment back in their classroom.
This was after he assured the students the experiment would be painless, after one student suggested they would need needles to extract DNA.
“This is silly and fun and it doesn’t hurt at all,” he said.
Instead of drawing blood, he said, the best place to get DNA samples? A person’s cheek, which he said was teeming with cells.
“Your cheeks have cells that are coming off all the time,” he said.
And so, he got down to it: He told the students he was going to take a sip of water, swish the water around his mouth for 60 seconds to really loosen those cells, and then spit the water into a cup. Which he did, as the students counted up to 60 to time him. (They tried, but it was actually 48 seconds.)
“Now I have some spit here that’s filled with cheeky cells,” he said to a chorus of both giggles and “eews” from the students.
Those cheeky cells were transferred to a test tube, a chemical was added to help break open the cells, some regular rubbing alcohol was added to “let the DNA come out of the cells” … and then he let it sit for a few minutes before “long strings” started to “bubble out.”
“Those are the DNA,” he said.
He carried the test tube around to show all the students, and even held it as the students filed past him out of the room to go home for the day, buzzing about when they would get a chance to do their own swishing and spitting.
“That was amazing,” one student said.
Watching them leave the school where he spent so many of his formative years, DeWitt said he comes back to Pine Cobble as much as he can. He said he appreciates the way the school is “all about creative learning,” even more so now than he when we was a student in the 1990s.
“It’s so cool,” he said, adding that he loves seeing the students “excited and engaged” with science. “They have a lot of energy.”
BOSTON (AP) — Stephen King and his wife, fellow novelist Tabitha King, have donated $1.25 million to the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
The Kings made the gift through their foundation.
The Boston-based organization is the nation’s oldest and largest genealogical society. It says it will use the gift announced Tuesday to develop educational programming and fund a curriculum in family history for public school students.
It will also help the organization expand its headquarters.
Brenton Simons is president and CEO of the society. He says the money will have “far-reaching benefits.”
The society says the Kings have deep personal interest in family and local history and their importance in education.
Nature vs. Nuture: The Secret Twin Study
by Jennifer Sommers, Guest Contributing Author
Why You Should Dig Up Your Family’s History — and How to Do It
By JAYA SAXENA
The New York Times
FEB. 3, 2019
The fact that your name ends in “ski” does not by any means indicate that you are irrefutably descended from nobility. While many noble families bore these type of surnames, they later became widespread among the peasantry. We have observed in parish registers dating from the beginning decades of the nineteenth century that priests added “ski” to peasant names to make them “sound nicer”. Our ancestors however had no idea that the priest was recording their names in this fashion because most were illiterate and it would never enter into their head to go check what the priest wrote in a baptismal register.
The peasants did not use these embellished names in their daily lives. Further along in the century names in the registers frequently reverted back to their original forms, although some families retained the surnames containing “ski”. So you may find in the course of your research that your surname appears in different forms.
To illustrate this here are some examples from a parish that our society has indexed. Names which appeared as Golik, Duchnik, Klim, Zając and Wojtasz were transformed by the record keeper into Golikowski, Duchnowski, Klimaszewski, Zajączkowski and Wojtaszewski respectively. NONE of these families were of noble origin. Essentially the ski suffix is simply a linguistic mechanism which changes a noun into an adjective .This can be clearly seen in the names of Poland’s current provinces which are all adjectives derived from nouns ( i.e. zielonogórski from the city of Zielona Góra or podlaski from the noun Podlasie).
The name of the Polish language newspaper in Chicago (Dzienniik Chicagoski) also clearly illustrates this linguistic phenomenon. Chicagoski is simply the adjectival form of Chicago. So your ski name didn’t turn you into a noble. It turned you into an adjective.
And while on the subject of “fake news”, the next time you hear someone state “My grandfather’s name got changed at Ellis Island” immediately tell them NO! NO! NO! This is yet another false statement that has been circulating for decades. Names were NOT changed at Ellis Island by immigration officials. They were changed, either forcibly or voluntarily long AFTER your ancestor took his or her first steps into a new world.