Join students Sophie, Tomás, Emma, and Marcus during Fifth Period! This STEM comic strip chronicles the exciting and often hilarious adventures of a close-knit group of four friends as they learn about science, technology, engineering, and math from their kooky, inspiring, off-the-wall science teacher, Mr. Kepler. When they're not in class, these kids love to explore the vast world of STEM on their own, launching weather balloons, programming computer games, and cataloging insects, sometimes with unpredictable and highly entertaining results!
Check back on the first and third Friday of every month for a new Fifth Period strip!
In Fur a Surprise…
A glow-in-the-dark cat?! How is that even possible? It’s not magic, believe it or not! Just when you thought the only bioluminescent creatures were insects or those living in the deep sea, it turns out even mammals can become bioluminescent—with the power of genetic engineering, of course.
While some scientists and engineers are interested in making things glow to provide light, other scientists have a completely different objective: curing disease. Remember that geneticists are scientists who study gene sequences—that’s in DNA, the stuff that makes you YOU. Sometimes geneticists will splice new gene sequences into already existing DNA, to try to make a living thing resistant to a specific disease. But…it’s hard to tell if the splicing worked because the animal looks no different on the outside. What to do, then?
That’s where GFP (green fluorescent protein) comes in! Just like it sounds, GFP is the special ingredient for glow-in-the-dark life. By studying naturally bioluminescent creatures, geneticists have been able to isolate the gene sequence that makes GFP, and—you guessed it—now they can splice it in with other gene sequences. So, if an animal has been given the GFP gene and a disease-fighting gene at the same time, it’s super easy to tell if the splicing worked if the animal glows green!
Check it out!
Learn more about why and how glow-in-the-dark cats exist. That only leaves one question: Why on earth was glow-in-the-dark cat wandering around the schoolyard?