Beyond the Central Dogma: Bringing Epigenetics into the Classroom
Epigenetics is the study of how external factors and internal cellular signals can lead to changes in the packaging and processing of DNA sequences, thereby altering the expression of genes and traits. Exploring the epigenome introduces students to environmental influences on our genes and the complexities of gene expression. A supplemental curriculum module developed by the Genetic
Science Learning Center (GSLC) at the University of Utah brings epigenetics to high school and undergraduate classrooms through a range of online and paper-based activities. We describe these activities and provide strategies for incorporating both introductory and more advanced materials that explore “cell memory,” epigenetic inheritance, nutrition, and emerging connections
between the epigenome and behavior. Finally, we outline recent reach on student learning gains using the GSLC’s epigenetics module and provide connections to the Next Generation Science Standards.