How to teach DNA and genomics to high school students

Bay Area Teachers Learn a Fun Way of Teaching DNA at the BABEC Training Workshop Teaching lessons on DNA, genetics, race and ancestry could be a make it or break it moment in front of high school students. There is that lost look in the students’ eyes that inevitably leads to boredom when teachers dive deeper into cytology and molecular biology. Or there is the sensitivity of bringing up race in the classroom that might divert the science lesson into conversations often reserved for history or social studies classes.  However, with the rising popularity of exploring your ancestry through companies specializing in consumer genomics like Ancestry and 23andMe, integrating the ancestry theme into a DNA and genetics lesson might compel the disenchanted On Saturday, December 7, twenty-five science teachers from across the Bay Area, attended the BABEC Training Workshop on mtDNA PCR:  What Does Genetics Tell Us About Race and Ancestry? at City College of San Francisco – Mission Campus. This workshop provided teachers the opportunity to experience BABEC’s hands-on lab lesson by actually doing it, while learning how they can teach this lesson in their respective classrooms. The workshop also featured a special guest. Dr. Joshua Schraiber, Research Scientist of Population Genetics at Ancestry, gave a riveting presentation on ancestry, ethnicity, genetic communities and migration. Even though the workshop was 6 hours, time seemed to fly due to the variety and quality of activities that kept everyone engaged.  Teachers enjoyed a game of card matching, swishing for cheek cells and were excited to learn about haplogroups. It was easy to forget that the other invaluable take-aways from this workshop were the new and refined lab skills that the teachers had developed, a NGSS-aligned lesson plan that permits all students to do science and resources to turn classrooms into science labs. Undoubtedly, the teachers’ enthusiasm for this BABEC lesson will be contagious for their students. Nevertheless, when teachers make learning science fun, they are helping to create a generation of problem solvers. Thank you, Teachers, for attending this workshop and for all that you do for the next generation. Below are photos from the workshop, and see BABEC’s Instagram for more!
Amanda Cherry
Paradise Valley HS
Phoenix, AZ

The curriculum materials are beautifully prepared and easy to understand-thanks for preparing such great resources that are easy to use.

Byron Gougoumis
Burton HS
San Francisco, CA

All Babec labs are well organised and modelled effectively with clear, helpful procedural instructions, easily transposed to the classroom.

Gianne Souza
Lincoln HS
San Francisco, CA

The online resources are SO well done! The best I have ever had. Very little modification to make them clear and easy to follow. I have done two BABEC lessons and they are so well made that they made teaching online fun again.

Heather Johnson
Burlingame HS
Burlingame, CA

When doing the BABEC labs I consistently hear students say they feel like "real scientists."

Marianne Gudmundsson
Glenbrook South HS
Glenview, IL

Well organized and scaffolded; flexible structure and can be used partially or as a whole. This unit can be used as is...superbly written and thought out...incorporates many skills and allows student collaboration and student choice/voice.

Rocky Ng
South San Francisco HS
South San Francisco, CA

Thank you for creating these curriculum materials. I am beyond grateful for the quality lessons, on-the-point figures/videos, and easy-to-navigate biotechnology curriculum.

Thi Ngo
Capuchino HS
San Bruno, CA

The level of support really made the whole process easier and encouraged me to continue incorporating biotech into my curriculum. Thank you for the live assistance during the labs and for responding to inquiries so promptly and with such urgency.

Anonymous Teacher

Really well thought out curricula. Great to see "old" activities that have been re-imagined with lots of consideration to NGSS.

Anonymous Teacher

This was the best educational workshop I have had the honor of attending, and I am so thankful.

Anonymous Teacher

Wonderfully executed. Strengthened my skills. Thank you!!

Anonymous Teacher

BABEC has such a strong positive impact on teachers and students - thank you for your amazing work!