HomeHHMI's BioInteractiveFilm Guides: Got Lactase? The Co-evolution of Genes and Culture


Free Resources for Science Education

Film Guides
Film Guides: Got Lactase? The Co-evolution of Genes and Culture


The following classroom-ready resources complement Got Lactase? The Co-evolution of Genes and Culture, which tells the story of the evolution of the ability to digest lactose, a genetic trait that arose in humans within the last 10,000 years in some pastoralist cultures.

Note: The guides and quiz were revised October 1, 2014 to incorporate field-testers' comments. The In-Depth-Guide was also revised to include film pause points and discussion questions.

These guides and quiz support the short film Got Lactase? The Co-evolution of Genes and Culture. The “At a Glance Film Guide” provides a short summary of the film, along with key concepts and ties to selected curricula and textbooks. The “In-Depth Film Guide for Teachers” includes a more detailed summary and background information, discussion points, lists of related resources and references, and answers to the accompanying student “Quiz.” The "Quiz" is designed as a summative assessment that probes student understanding of the key concepts addressed in the film. These documents are updated as new information and resources become available.

Curriculum Connections:

NGSS (April 2013)

AP (201213 Standards)
1.A.1, 1.A.2, 1.C.3, 2.A.2, 2.D.2, 2.E.1, 3.B.1, 3.C.1, 3.C.2, 4.A.1, 4.C.3

IB (2009 Standards)
3.2, 3.6, 4.1, 5.4, 6.1, A.3.1, D.3.10

Supporting Materials (6)

Classroom Resource
Students explore the genetic changes associated with lactose tolerance/intolerance and how the trait is inherited in families.
Classroom Resource
Students evaluate and discuss several statements about lactose intolerance and evolution before and after watching the film.
Classroom Resource
Students explore the effects of different diets on the evolution of an enzyme that breaks down starch.
Classroom Resource
Students simulate a lactose tolerance test.
Classroom Resource
Students interpret the results of two different tests for lactase persistence.
Short Film
Follow human geneticist Spencer Wells, Director of the Genographic Project of the National Geographic Society, as he tracks down the genetic changes associated with the ability to digest lactose as adults, tracing the origin of the trait to less than 10,000 years ago, a time when some human populations started domesticating animals.

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