Khmer New Year Fun and Games

Monday, 23rd April 2018
Musical performances and traditional dancing
Teagn Prot (Tug-o-War)
Labeing Veay Ka Orm (Smash the Clay Pot)
Bos Angkunh (Tossing the Seeds)
Leak Kanseng (Drop the Towel)
Reau Bangkorng (Lobster Hunt)
Rout Bronang Chea Ku (Couple Run)
Celebration Dance


Friday, 6th April 2018

Jay Pritzker Academy staff and students are celebrating Khmer New Year.


Monday, 2nd April 2018

Recently, Grade 9 began to study another challenging and interesting field of science: Genetics. We started by discussing inheritance and looking at Gregor Mendel and his work in genetics. We investigated inheritance directly by planting fast-growing flowers and observing genetic crosses just as Mendel did with his pea plants. We then focused on DNA, learning about the different processes involved in gene expression, the role of DNA and experimenting with DNA technology through the use of gel electrophoresis.

We discussed heredity and different patterns of Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance. For a trait to be Mendelian, two alleles, different forms of a gene, exist with one dominant allele and one recessive allele. When gametes, (sex cells) are formed, the genes from each parent segregate independently which means that genes which code one trait (an example from our flowers is stem color) assort independently from genes that code for other traits (e.g., leaf color). In our investigation, we bred two true-breeding (homozygous) plants; one with yellow leaves and purple stems, and one with green leaves and stems. The purpose of this experiment was to observe which trait is dominant and which is recessive. Fast plants are specifically designed plants in the Brassica rapa species. These plants are in the family of crucifers, closely related to broccoli. Fast plants have a short life cycle of around forty days. They are grown in laboratories and used for research and education. This way we can observe the plants over many generations within a school semester. We were each given three plants with a certain phenotype.

The stems were either purple or green and the leaves were either green or yellow. We provided the plants with continuous light by placing them under a fluorescent light inside the classroom and gave the plants a steady supply of water. We waited for the plants to grow flowers so that we could then breed them. Once the plants flowered, we used paint brushes to pollinate the true breeding plants with another plant of different phenotypes. After we pollinated the plants, we waited for them to grow seed pods and reach the end of their life cycle. This week, the plants have already reached the end of their life cycle. We are preparing to harvest the seeds of the plants to see the phenotypes of the second generations of plants. As a class, we predicted that the plants would all be heterozygous because when homozygous parents breed, the offspring will have a copy of each gene. We were able to see the plants’ full life cycle and cross breed them ourselves.

We have now moved onto DNA structure, its function, and most interestingly, DNA technology. DNA is found in all organisms, and it makes us who we are. Gel electrophoresis is an effective method to analyze DNA. Electrophoresis works because DNA is negatively charged. Once we have used restriction enzymes (enzymes that cut DNA in places that have the same genetic sequence) to cut the DNA into smaller pieces, we can place them into wells inside agarose gel. We used Tris-borate buffer solution to help spread the electrical charge throughout the box. When we turn on the power supply, the negatively charged DNA will start moving towards the positive side. However, the bigger molecules of DNA move slower than the small ones, so we have a separation of DNA lengths. DNA with similar sizes move at the same speed, effectively producing a band DNA which we can observe with our eyes.

We first tried modeling gel electrophoresis with color dyes and observing how polarity affects the way the dye travels in the gel. We prepared the gel, the box, the buffer solution, and the color dyes. We placed the dye inside wells in the gel, pour the Tris-borate solution so that it covers the agarose entirely, turn on the power, and wait. After an hour, we saw that the colors had separated. The yellow dye moved the farthest, indicating it has the smallest sized molecules. Electrophoresis separates the mixed dyes, too. Green dye separated in blue and yellow as yellow moves much faster than blue. After the experiment, we realized that it was a big stepping stone for scientists. Possessing information on DNA sizes, scientists could now isolate specific parts of DNA, applying to concepts such as engineering a baby’s genotype or reproducing more of a needed genetic cure.

We are now conducting another gel electrophoresis experiment with actual Lambda DNA. Lambda is a bacteriophage or a virus that injects its DNA into bacteria and reproduces in it. Our purpose for this gel electrophoresis experiment is to understand how this advanced technology works. From this experiment, we might be able to observe which restriction enzymes work best to fingerprint Lambda. We can apply this principle to other viruses and maybe develop cures for viral infections by using electrophoresis to test the functionality of each enzyme.

After conducting various experiments, we understand that genetics has shaped us in many ways and the study of genetics and new discoveries will influence us more and more in the future. Experimenting with fast plants we learned that traits are inherited from parents to offspring. Scientists can track down the traits and the diseases within generations of people from the same bloodline. Experimenting with gel electrophoresis has shown us that it has many applications. People can use gel electrophoresis to solve crimes by using genetic fingerprinting. Scientists can use two pieces of DNA at the crime scene and determine whether the DNA matches or not. We can also use gel electrophoresis to prevent diseases by sorting out the DNA fragments by size since it can help us find the gene of interest in the DNA sequence.

As students, this might influence our interest in genetics and some students might go on to choose careers in genetics such as genetic counseling or scientific research.

Following their love of STEM subjects, two of the co-authors, Srey On and Sokhvisal, will travel to the UK to study in Oxford. Srey On will study biotechnology while Sokhvisal will study engineering and computer science.


Monday, 26th April 2018
Phalla crosses the finish line

Phalla with college counselor, Ms. Fraser-King

This week, during his spring break, Phalla ’19, returned from the USA and stopped by JPA to spend a day with his old classmates. Below, Phalla tells us about his cross-country running:

My Cross Country Experience

I am currently a high school sophomore at Westminster School in Connecticut where, among many subjects and activities, I am part of the cross-country team.

The school year has gone by fast and contained many unforgettable experiences. Out of all of them, cross-country was the highlight. I joined the sport not knowing what it really was. All I knew was that involved some running – something I have always enjoyed doing. My first competition, or as we say – meet, was away from Westminster School and taught me the definition of the sport. Runners ran for three miles and were given points according to the order in which they finished.

Training was challenging. Daily training took place in the cool afternoons of autumn. On Mondays, we ran long slow distance runs at a nearby park. On Tuesdays, we did tempo, a drill consisting of fast, one-mile runs with short breaks. Wednesdays were yoga days and strength training at the gym. On Thursdays, drills always changed; sometimes we played ultimate frisbee or ran the three-mile-long Westminster course. We took it easy on Fridays and slowly jogged the school course with some additional core stretches. The most exhausting drill was hill training. Runners ran through the woods of Westminster School and repeatedly climbed up hills. The runs were a test of endurance, but the team never gave up on each other; we told each other to keep running. Saturday meets were exhausting yet fun. The early finishers cheered on other runners and the atmosphere was joyful.

My team was an incredible group of people. Talented runners could finish races with sub-20 minute finishing times. I was not a sub-20 minute runner. In my best race, I clocked a relatively good time of 23 minutes which got me selected as a participant in the New England race; a race where only the top twenty runners were chosen from each school in the area. The team had an incredible season – the best season in twenty years – and took home third place at the end-of-season New England race.

Cross-country was a beautiful and new experience. I look forward to trying other new opportunities and next fall; I might reunite with my team or try another new sport.

Phalla, center, with teammates


Monday, 19th March 2018

Chanthen ’19, who is attending Annie Wright Upper School for Girls in Tacoma, WA, USA, sent us a letter about her school trip to Alaska. She visited Anchorage as a member of the Annie Wright Model United Nations/Global Action group. The group was visiting to learn about indigenous sovereignty, environmental preservation, animal rights and local governance. Students met with Anchorage’s mayor, Ethan Berkowitz, discussing a number of different topics. Chanthen’s trip also featured meetings with tribal elders at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, conservationists at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and an expert on the growth of Anchorage and its pioneering history.


Monday, 12th March 2018

Chamroeun ’15, has been studying Information Technology for the past three years in Bangkok. Recently, he returned to Cambodia to undertake an internship to earn the remaining required credits for his degree. Chamroeun called into JPA to give a presentation to juniors and seniors.
He shares his reflections on the last three years:


Monday, 12th March 2018
Dr. Seuss Day lunch menu and library display
Breakfast - Green Eggs and No Ham
Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat, with a Who from Horton Hears a Who!Hortons heading home from SeussvilleGrade 1 listening to The Lorax
Dr. Seuss day assembly