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Students and Teachers Learn What Their Genes Mean

Students and Teachers Learn What Their Genes Mean

Summary

VectorNet enables students and teachers to analyze their own DNA sequences and DNA sequences from the Human Genome Project, which are posted in databases on the Internet.

VectorNet, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's advanced computer lab, doesn't have the human personality of Hal in "2001: a Space Odyssey." But New York City high school students and science teachers in New York City and around the nation will find a friend in VectorNet's 12 computers as they delve into human genome research.

VectorNet enables students and teachers to analyze their own DNA sequences and DNA sequences from the Human Genome Project, which are posted in databases on the Internet. The students and teachers will employ the same techniques used by scientists to compare their own DNA sequences to the sequences of other people. Their goal is to understand the Human Genome Project and the common genetic ancestry that human beings share.

VectorNet will travel to five New York City high schools throughout the school year. The five host high schools draw their diverse student populations from some of the most economically disadvantaged New York City neighborhoods.

In a national summer workshop program called Vector Bioinformatics, high school teachers also will learn about cutting-edge genetics research. Back in the classroom, they'll share their fresh understanding of molecular biology with their students.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) will bring VectorNet to workshops at several professional meetings for teachers each year.

CSHL is just one of many medical research centers that are beefing up pre-college science programs for students and teachers with the help of funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Some of the other programs include:

The Carnegie Institution of Washington, which provides inquiry-based science instruction to students at 29 elementary schools and intensive summer science workshops for 400 elementary school teachers.

• At the University of Nevada School of Medicine, high school students are paired with first year medical students. They participate in campus events and science lectures while teachers hone their science teaching skills at summer workshops.

• INSTEP, a program run by the University of South Dakota School of Medicine, trains middle and high school teachers in hands-on, evidence-based science education and provides molecular biology workshops for students from area Native American reservations. INSTEP also will sponsor traveling molecular biology kits that help bring science to life for middle and high school students.