Genetics for Kids (GK) is a curriculum supplement designed to increase seventh and eighth grade students’ positive attitudes toward genetics and build science literacy. Positive attitudes and science literacy are important for many reasons.
Positive attitudes toward science relates to higher levels of science literacy and achievement
Science literacy is critical for students to make informed decisions about their health and livelihood
Genetics research is advancing rapidly - and it is complicated. Understanding basic genetics is a fundamental part of science literacy
Science literacy helps keep people safe and protects our communities
The GK curriculum supplement includes 10 modules. All GK modules contain specific learning objectives aligned with state and national science standards. The modules can be taught in any sequence, and plugged into the standard science curriculum to expand learning beyond the content in most standard textbooks.
Module 1: The Great DNA Extraction
Students learn about the history of the discovery of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), and hypothesize about whether DNA can ever be visible without a microscope. Students perform an experiment in which they extract DNA from wheat germ cells. Students then evaluate whether or not their hypothesis was correct.
Module 2: Chromosomes, Coils, and Creatures
Students learn the distinction between chromosomes and chromatin. Students examine the relationship between diploid number and an organism’s traits. Students compete in a “chromosome contest” to model the way in which chromatin wraps around protein to form chromosomes. Students create a creature, and determine the creature’s habitat, diploid number, and traits.
Module 3: Lights. Camera. Karyotypes.
Students examine karyotypes to determine whether a person is male or female. Students learn how to diagnose medical conditions based on atypical human karyotyopes. Students learn how to identify homologous pairs of chromosomes, and play “Karyotype Concentration” to practice matching homologous pairs of chromosomes.
Module 4: Genes — What are they good for?
Students learn about alleles and dominant and recessive genes. Students learn the way in which combinations of alleles create different genotypes and phenotypes. Students work in groups to determine their phenotypes, identify genotypes that could create their phenotype, and determine whether anyone else in their class has the same phenotype and genotype for four different traits.
Module 5 — Fruit Fly Mutation!
Students learn about genetic mutations that fruit flies may have, and the way in which mutations can either be beneficial, harmful, or neutral depending on the fruit fly’s environment. Students learn that, because fruit flies and humans have many of the same genes, scientists sometimes study mutations in fruit flies to learn about mutations in humans. Students reinforce their knowledge about fruit flies by playing the “Mutation Game”.
Module 6: Sickle Cell: The good, the bad, and the deadly
Students learn about mutations to alleles that may cause sickle cell anemia. Students learn the effects of having one sickle cell allele (SCT), the effects of having two sickle cell alleles (SCA), and the way in which sickle cell trait can protect against malaria. Students examine inheritance possibilities of hemoglobin alleles using Punnett squares to illustrate the likelihood of an offspring having SCT or SCA.
Module 7: Solving and sharing the mysteries of genes
Students read and discuss three different scenarios about DNA testing for genetic markers. Students learn about DNA testing to reveal genetic markers related to breast cancer, DNA testing of in vitro embryos before implantation in the uterus of the prospective mother, and DNA testing for genetic diseases that may be in a family.
Module 8: X, Y, and Athletes
Students explore the ethical complications and implications of using genetic knowledge in determining fairness of an athletic competition. Students learn about genetic testing to determine the sex of an athlete. Students explore ways in which athletes may gain an unfair advantage in competition by increasing red blood cell production through blood doping and gene doping.
Module 9: Inheritance – It’s the law!
Students learn about the Mendel’s Laws of Segregation and Independent Assortment. Students learn the distinction between genes and alleles, and model the process of inheriting alleles through a coin flipping activity.
Module 10: Blood type – What is your type?
Students explore genetic variation by studying the alleles that create human blood types. Students calculate the probability that a person will inherit a particular blood type by completing Punnett squares. Students create graphs to illustrate the frequency in which different blood types are found in the U.S., and apply their knowledge about blood types and trait inheritance to solve a mystery.