Written by Deborah Bowie | MicroBlitz Project Manager



On his recent trip to the Goldfields, Professor Andy Whiteley sparked the curiosity of the students at Mount Magnet DHS by asking the question, “Is dirt alive?”


Professor Andy, is the head scientist for the MicroBlitz Project, based at the University of Western Australia.  He was lucky to find so many keen helpers in Mount Magnet, and is hoping to see some of these apprentice scientists again at the Astro Rocks Festival.  


Like many people around Mount Magnet Professor Andy is curious about what is in the ground.  But, instead of looking for gold, he’s taking soil samples to find out what kinds of tiny creatures (microbes) live hidden underground. 


The microbes Professor Andy is looking for in the soil are so tiny, that to be able to identify and count them he has to test their DNA. While he was visiting Mount Magnet DHS, Professor Andy got students involved in an activity similar to what he does in his lab at UWA, and students learned how to extract DNA from a strawberry.