Onsite Field Trip Experiences

Thank you for your interest in an onsite HudsonAlpha field trip experience. Our 2017-2018 field trip schedule is full, and we will begin accepting requests for the 2018-2019 school year in Summer 2018. In the meantime, you can join the waitlist or check out our virtual field trip experiences.


HudsonAlpha is pleased to offer the following full day and half day experiences for your students. Please refer to the chart below for costs and required number of chaperones for each experience. Box lunch from the Anita Loya Cafe in the HudsonAlpha atrium includes sandwich, chips, a cookie and a soda.

The HudsonAlpha teaching lab has workspace for a maximum of 32 students per event. To request a field trip for a group of 33 students or more, please contact Mrs. April Reis at areis@hudsonalpha.orgCosts are determined per event, not per student, with a minimum number of 10 participants.  

Learn more about our available onsite field trip experiences:

  • Full Day High School


    Investigating the Genetics of Cancer (5 hours)
    In this full day lab-based experience, students will examine the genetic roots of cancer, compare hereditary and non-hereditary cancers and use the HNPCC kit to trace a cancer-related mutation through a family. In the lab, students will use a family medical history to create a pedigree and select likely candidates for genetic testing. Using gel electrophoresis, students will identify family members carrying the cancer‐linked mutation. Throughout the day, students will discuss ethical challenges related to genetic testing. This experience includes lunch (provided by the HudsonAlpha Bistro at an additional $8.75/student) and a talk with a HudsonAlpha scientist.

    Genetically Modified Snacks? (6.5 hours)
    Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are the subject of wide ranging debates in the US and in other countries. In this whole day experience, students will investigate genetic modifications on plants and examine common snack items for the presence of genetically modified corn or soybean. In the lab, students will extract DNA from snack foods and use PCR to amplify target regions and gel electrophoresis to analyze their results. Students will explore the ethical challenges related to genetic modification. This experience includes lunch (provided by the HudsonAlpha Bistro at an additional $8.75/student) and a tour of HudsonAlpha – including the Genome Sequencing Center where the soybean genome was completed. Please note this activity is not available to groups larger than 32 students.

    Genes & ConSEQUENCES (5 hours)
    Students will dive into the Central Dogma in this full-day computer based activity. Students will gain experience with DNA sequencing and look at how changes in key regions of DNA can cause disease. Using one of 15 case studies, students will practice DNA base pairing, transcription and translation. Students will create protein-folding models and discuss how changes in amino acid sequence may impact protein function. This experience includes lunch (provided by the HudsonAlpha Bistro at an additional $8.75/student), a tour of the Genome Sequencing Center, and a tour of another laboratory to discuss how sequencing data is used in modern genomic research.

    Jumping Genes! PV92 Insertion (5.5 hours)
    Alu insertion polymorphism is one of the more widely studied DNA polymorphisms, representing approximately 5% of the human genome. In this full-day, lab-based experience, students will be exposed to various laboratory skills and techniques while examining their own DNA for the presence/absence of an Alu element at a particular chromosome location.* This experience includes lunch (provided by the HudsonAlpha Bistro at an additional $8.75/student) and a tour of HudsonAlpha. Please note this activity is not available to groups larger than 32 students.

    *Students’ samples will not be used outside of the educational context of this activity and a signed parental release form is required for participation. Download the activity permission form.

  • Half Day High School


    Cytogeneticist for a Day (1.5 hours)
    In this half-day experience, students will take on the role of a cytogeneticist, examining patient samples for chromosomal anomalies. Students will learn how karyotypes are produced and work through one of 15 patients case studies, using HudsonAlpha’s Disorder Detectives kit, to create a karyotype. Along the way, HudsonAlpha instructors will lead students through discussion about the impact of chromosomal changes.

    Extreme Extraction (1.5 hours)
    Extracting DNA is a favorite activity for many students and teachers. In this half­‐day experience, students take DNA extractions to the next level, by creating their own extraction solutions using common household items to extract DNA from one of a variety of food items. Students will learn how cell structure impacts the extraction process and discuss why scientists extract DNA.

    All in the Family – Or Is It? (2.5 hours)
    In this half day, lab-based experience, students will examine the role of inherited mutations and environmental factors using the HNPCC kit. In the lab, students will use a family medical history to create a pedigree and select likely candidates for genetic testing. Using gel electrophoresis, students will identify family members carrying a cancer-linked mutation. Throughout the day, students will discuss ethical challenges related to genetic testing.

    Genome Cache (1 hour) – Can be combined with other experiences and is weather dependent
    Using the double helix sidewalks of McMillian Park, students investigate nearly 200 genetic points of interest along a human genome walk. The Genome Cache app provides clues to send students on a scavenger hunt through the genome. Students respond to genetic trivia questions to receive the next clue and can compare their scores to the statewide leaderboard. Genome Caching is only available at certain times. Instructors interested in Genome Caching with their students should inquire about availability when scheduling a visit to HudsonAlpha.

  • Half Day Middle School


    Exploring Enzymes (1.5 hours)
    In this half‐day lab­-based activity, students will investigate enzymes. Students will begin by learning about enzyme specificity using locks and keys and discuss the role of enzymatic reactions during digestion of a fast food meal. In addition students will evaluate several enzymes used in the production of apple juice or create cheese using enzymes produced by biotechnology.

    Kitchen DNA with a Twist of Inquiry (1.5 hours)
    In this hands‐on lab, students begin by performing a standard DNA extraction from strawberries. Students will learn how cell structure impacts the extraction process and discuss why scientists extract DNA with content presented at a middle school level. Then, students take DNA extractions to the next level, by creating their own extraction solutions using common household items to extract DNA from one of a variety of food items.

    What is Biotechnology?  (1.5 hours)
    In this half‐day experience, students are allowed to answer the question, “What is Biotechnology?” Students will use a web-­‐based  timeline to investigate key events in the history of biotechnology and learn about modern applications of biotechnology. In the lab, students will examine and use biotechnology tools.

    Genome Cache (1 hour) – Can be combined with other experiences and is weather dependent
    Using the double helix sidewalks of McMillian Park, students investigate nearly 200 genetic points of interest along a human genome walk. The Genome Cache app provides clues to send students on a scavenger hunt through the genome. Students respond to genetic trivia questions to receive the next clue and can compare their scores to the statewide leaderboard. Genome Caching is only available at certain times. Instructors interested in Genome Caching with their students should inquire about availability when scheduling a visit to HudsonAlpha.

Pricing and required number of chaperones for each experience:

Field trip experiences are made possible through support from the State of Alabama. Funding is available for Alabama public schools to offset HudsonAlpha-associated field trip expenses.* This funding will cover one full-day experience (or two half-day experiences combined) per school year, as well as lunch for up to 32 students and up to three chaperones. Middle school experiences and high school half-day experiences can be combined. When submitting your field trip request, please indicate your school name and type of school to note if you are eligible for funding.

*Transportation and substitute costs are excluded.