Best Practices teaching Genetics
While most of the press hijacks the debate over how to present our origins by communicating precious little concrete leading edge information, and fixating on argumentative tempers (up goes the volume down goes fidelity), talented teams are working the Human Genome Project, capturing new insights into genetic machinery, visualizing these new worlds so a student can understand, and periodically updating the standards for scientific literacy.

Check out the 5 Genetic Resources below-

(1) Sex and the Single Guppy is one activity in Lesson four, titled "How does Evolution Work."
WGBH PBS program Evolution http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/index.html .

This (hands on tested with students and pre-service teachers) recommended resource is a hands on representation of one of many great stories of adaptation. But here the learner runs multiple simulations to analyze and wrap their head around the genetic drive for mating and survival.
Sex and the Single Guppy http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/educators/lessons/lesson4/act2.html
an online (cross platform) simulation demonstrating adaptation.

(2) DNA Interactive (now including Bio Interactive activities http://www.dnai.org/index.htm
Is one of the resources I find compelling. Published at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute websites. This set of educational resources is so cool I had 3 colleagues gathered around my desk watching an exquisite animation with audio and transcript of RNA transcription. It certainly is a time of miracles and wonders, when we can visualize the ancient dance of RNA transcription. One entire section of the Applications unit is dedicated to genetics and human origins. A definite must see.

(3) A Vision for the Future of Genomics Research A Blueprint for the Genomic Era In an April 2003 article titled A vision for the future of genomics research A blueprint for the genomic era, published in volume 422 of Nature, one of the Grand Challenges (number I-4) of genomic research is as follows: "Understand evolutionary variation across species and the mechanisms underlying it. This is a worthy challenge, already bearing nascent fruit updating morphologic phylogeny with molecular phylogenic analysis." One example story involves updating the proposed understanding of the
relationship between the whale and the hippopotamus http://physorg.com/news2806.html

What caught my attention was the following information from this highly recommended read, and I quote: "...The study of inter-species sequence comparisons is important for identifying functional elements in the genome (see Grand Challenge I-1). Beyond this illuminating role, determining the sequence differences between species will provide insight into the distinct anatomical, physiological and developmental features of different organisms, will help to define the genetic basis for speciation and will facilitate the characterization of mutational processes. This last point deserves particular attention, because mutation both drives long-term evolutionary change and is the underlying cause of inherited disease. The recent finding that mutation rates vary widely across the mammalian genome11 raises numerous questions about the molecular basis for these evolutionary changes. At present, our understanding of DNA mutation and repair, including the important role of environmental factors, is limited. Genomics will provide the ability to substantively advance insight into evolutionary variation, which will, in turn, yield new insights into the dynamic nature of genomes in a broader evolutionary framework..."

(4) RNA as an Enzyme Lecture
Lecture Two is a seriously fruitful use of one hour, where Nobel laureate Thomas R. Cech, Ph.D. discusses in refreshing detail, RNA as an Enzyme, and how that discovery might impact the study of the origins of Life, and medical breakthroughs. Lecture 2 of 4, titled
The Double Life of RNA, presented by the
Howard Hughes Medical Institute http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/rna/lectures.html

(5) Dolan DNA Learning Center
http://www.dnalc.org/home.html

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Scott Coletti scoletti1@mac.com