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This DNA website—which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of the DNA double helix—is a resource for middle, high school, and college biology educators and students. The site is divided into six main topics (Timeline, Code, Manipulation, Genome, Applications, and Chronicle). Its features allow users to explore the past, manipulate models, and see hidden processes through animations, video interviews with scientists, and activities. The Timeline section (pre-1920s to 2000) provides historical background for the study of genetics and particularly DNA. Each time period contains a brief biography of a prominent scientist and a teaching module explaining his or her accomplishments. In the Code portion, users follow the scientists who made the discoveries and see the mistakes they made as they unraveled the mystery of the DNA code. The Manipulation section looks at the methods and techniques scientists wrestled with to work with particular stretches of DNA (genes). In the Genome section, users explore the key features of their genetic landscape, find out more about the methods used to map and sequence the entire human genome, and learn how to analyze genomes for useful information. In Applications, teachers and students use techniques of forensic analysis to solve a historical puzzle. In Chronicles, by examining certain historical events, users can come to grips with the past failings of eugenics. To help teach DNA concepts, teachers can download 15 lesson plans—which include objectives, national education standards, and student worksheets—for use in their classrooms. By registering for free at the site, teachers gain access to the Lesson Builder Tool and the online teaching community. A site map and a glossary are also available.
Program Director: David Micklos
Award Years: 1990, 1994, 1999, 2007
Summary: Cold Spring Harbor is a private, non-profit research and education institution in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. Its HHMI-funded initiatives include:
- An integrated laboratory and computer system that allows students to examine their own DNA polymorphisms, share data via the Internet and reconstruct human evolution;
- A large-scale program, Genetics as a Model for Whole Learning, that brings hands-on genetics into middle school classrooms, involving more than 10,000 students per year from 22 school districts and five private schools in metropolitan New York; and
- A professional development program, a close collaboration between the Dolan DNA Learning Center and the New York City Department of Education, which enables teachers to deliver hands-on, inquiry-based experiments in genetics and biotechnology to eighth- and ninth-graders. An online Lab Center—a mini-website including animations, interviews, class results, follow-up activities and projects—supports the program.