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StarGenetics, a resource from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is an educational software tool that lets students mate organisms and perform various genetic analyses virtually. A free, platform-independent software product that does not require installation and allows for fly and yeast experiments, StarGenetics can be used for in-class demonstrations, virtual labs, and homework assignments. The tool allows students to simulate mating experiments between organisms that are genetically different across a range of traits to analyze the nature of the traits in question. StarGenetics lets educators customize the experiment presented to the student. Instructors can specify simple to complex genetic interactions, as well as the genotypes, phenotypes, and other genetic characteristics of the organisms provided in a particular experiment. The website includes a userís manual, a video tutorial, sample exercises, and a simple Excel Workbook with instructions for educators. By modifying the Workbook, educators can generate new source files for exercises that can involve a range of genetics concepts, from simple dominance between alleles to complex gene interactions. The Star (Software Tools for Academics and Researchers) Program also has a suite of other software tools and database applications on its website. These include StarBiochem, available within this database, and StarBiogene, which allows students to analyze and visualize genomic expression data.
Program Director: Graham C. Walker, Ph.D.
Award Years: 1989, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006
Summary: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Its HHMI-funded educational initiatives include:
- The development of project-based laboratory courses and undergraduate research opportunity programs that allow students to work on cutting-edge research projects in collaboration with faculty labs;
- The Whitehead Seminar Series for High School Teachers, a monthly lecture series featuring talks by world-class researchers, which provides a framework for teachers to incorporate new ideas into their science classrooms, and
- The Whitehead Spring Lecture Series for High School Students, a program that includes laboratory demonstrations at the Whitehead and field trips to local biotechnology companies.