This project is intended for a group of 45 biology teachers participating
in a four week summer residential institute on Genetics, Genomics, and
Genethics organized by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
Institute faculty consists of two facilitators and three
scientific advisors who act as consultants to the Foundation . The bulk of the
institute involves laboratory work and scientific inquiry, culminating in a
final "working group" project that showcases participant learning
and that can be used in the classroom with students. Prior to the institute,
participants will communicate with each other and with institute faculty via
email and bulletin board. There will be a publicly-accessible Woodrow Wilson
Biology Institute website that faculty can use to post information and other
resources. During the institute, participants will be face-to-face, working on
institute activities at least 45 hours per week. Approximately 12 hours
per week will be spent in small groups, where participants will design and
carry out a "working group project."
Biology Institute participants receive an email message on April 25, 2001
telling them about a pre-institute online activity they will begin in early
On May 21, 2001 participants receive an email message, initiating the online activity. It directs them to the first participant page in the
Genetics, Genomics, and Genethics website.
Participants read a collection of statements and
questions designed to stimulate thought on the range of social issues
associated with genetic and genomic research, and how their students might be interested
in those issues. They are directed to three core resources that they
should use to prepare themselves for the institute and for the pre-institute
Then they are asked to participate in
a bulletin board discussion and are prompted with these questions:
are the main issues emerging from recent developments in genetics and
are the legal and ethical implications?
are the scientific principles involved?
Participants follow a hyperlink to the bulletin board area, where they post
their ideas in a specific folder. Facilitators post on the bulletin board as
well, asking probing questions and providing summarizing statements.
After one to two weeks of bulletin board discussion, facilitators create a number of
new threads, based on the themes and issues that came out of the
discussion. Some expected threads are genetically modified food, genetic
diseases, environmental impacts, patenting life, cloning, and genetic privacy
and discrimination. Facilitators begin each thread with a set of guiding
- What are the different "sides" of
your selected issue?
- Who cares about this issue and why?
- Why is it important?
- What do
you think students need to know
about this issue?
Facilitators send an email message to participants, announcing the
establishment of the new threads. They encourage participants to contribute
thoughtful postings to at least three threads, and to create new threads if
they like. They explain that these threads will help guide the formation
of "working groups" during the summer institute.
After 2-3 weeks, facilitators send an email message asking each participant
to make a posting to a new folder. Each person should pick three issues that
they might like to continue working on. For each issue they should
answer the following:
- What continuing questions do you have on this issue?
- What are some resources you might use to gather more information?
(People, books, websites, etc.)
When participants arrive at the institute in July, facilitators help them
form working groups, based on the individuals' top issues as noted in the
final bulletin board posting. Working groups have time during the
institute to work on their final projects: a poster, an article, and a