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Classroom Resource
Got Lactase? Blood Glucose Data Analysis


Students interpret the results of two different tests for lactase persistence.

A lesson in which students interpret the results of two different tests for lactase persistence: the blood glucose test and the hydrogen breath test. The lesson involves graphing and analyzing actual research data.

Appropriate for: first-year high school biology

"As an AP Biology teacher, I think it is important for students to be able to do four things before they leave my class: 1) support their thinking; 2) apply math to science; 3) understand that evolution is the unifying theme in biology; and finally 4) realize that biology has real-world applications and is just plain cool. The author of this classroom activity does an excellent job of covering my essentials in under 45 minutes. After watching the short film, students explore how the enzyme lactase hydrolyzes lactose into monosaccharides, and practice graphing and analyzing data. The worksheet requires them to provide reasoning for their answers. If you have time to explore the extension portion of the activity, you can tie in anaerobic respiration and why lactase non-persistence causes pain and discomfort."
– Melissa Csikari (Colonial Forge High School & Germanna Community College, VA)

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
In this lab, students test different samples to see which ones contain the lactase enzyme.
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.
Film Guides
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.

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