DNA is Elementary: Promoting Genetics Literacy


With funds provided by the Science Education Partnership Award scientists at Georgia State University (GSU) have created DNA is Elementary a set of learning modules developed to teach children in grades K through 5 about classical and molecular genetics. In our modules we use young learners’ facility with language acquisition to our advantage by representing DNA as an instructional manual with specific directions for making each unique organism. We now propose to build on our success with students in the K-5 arena by offering these learning modules to families in an informal science setting. Under the auspices of the Bio-Bus GSU’s mobile laboratory program we shall partner with public libraries to bring activities to children and their families that both educate and entertain. During the summer and on selected weekends and academic holidays we will present the current series of eight 60-minute modules at our partner institutions. Families who complete the first four modules will qualify to continue with any of the remaining four modules as well as with new problem-based modules currently under development. Finally families who wish to become deeply immersed in scientific experimentation can take part in a metagenomics project involving the identification of novel bacterial sequences from a soil-derived gene library containing over 80000 clones. The likelihood is high that some of these clones will contain sequences representing species that have never before been reported thus bringing the excitement of authentic scientific discovery within reach of the families we serve.