Recommended Timeframe: 2-3 months, 4-5 hours/week
We live in a highly modified world. In this unit you will explore the complex topic of genetic engineering in your own life and community. After examining visible inheritance in families, you will take a closer look at how traits are transferred at the cellular level. Then you will apply these concepts to the plants and animals we consume as you study selective breeding and genetic modification. Next you will explore the frontiers of genetic engineering, cloning and epigenetics, paying particular attention to the effect they have on economy, culture, and ecology. Additionally you will engage in conversations in order to determine the benefits and drawbacks of each technology. In the end you will understand that your community is rich with knowledge, experience, and resources that can help you learn and make an impact, even about topics as complex as genetic engineering.
- Plan and design a Community Impact Project related to current developments in genetics
- Write your own SciFi after reading The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer or The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearso.
- Model family inheritance of traits and how our genetics make us both similar and unique
- Explore why genetic diversity can be such a good thing and the sometimes surprising benefit of mutations
- See DNA firsthand, extracting it from beans using soap
- Simulate natural selection in a population of ‘clipbirds’ and apply this understanding to what’s outside your window
- Learn how to change genes through both ancient and cutting-edge techniques
- Find genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in your home and weigh their advantages and disadvantages
- Talk to community members to get their thoughts on pros and cons of genetic engineering technologies, like cloning, designer babies, and CRISPR (if you don’t know what that is, so will soon – prepare to have your mind blown!)