Fermilab LInC Online

Genetics, Genomics, and Genethics


Participant Pages
Index of Projects



       Biology. Genetics, Genomics, and ethics.

Grade Level:

        Biology teachers, grades 6-12


This project focuses on the social and ethical implications of genetic/genomic research and its applications. It will be implemented before and during the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Biology Institute in July, 2001. The main goal  of the project is to help Institute participants form viable "working groups" in which they produce a poster, curricular unit, and journal article related to the Institute theme of Genetics, Genomics, and Genethics.

Learner Description/Environment:

The project is intended for a group of 45 biology teachers participating in a four week summer residential institute on Genetics, Genomics, and Genethics. The bulk of the institute involves laboratory work and scientific inquiry, culminating in a final "working group" projects that showcase participant learning, can be used in the classroom with students, and can share valuable insights with other teachers.. Prior to the institute, learners 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.

Time Frame:

Participants will begin communicating online eight weeks prior to the institute. They will spend approximately two hours a week exploring resources and contributing to the online discussion. Once the institute begins on July 1, 2001, participants will have approximately eight hours per week to work on their working group projects.

Learner Outcomes:

  1. Communicate online with other participants in the Woodrow Wilson  2001 Biology Institute.
  2. Share thoughts on the pre-institute core resources.
  3. Identify a variety of social, ethical, and legal  issues associated with genetics and genomics.
  4. Identify and describe the scientific principles involved in ethical issues.
  5. Identify what students need to know about genetics and genomics by clearly showing connections to curricular standards.
  6. Develop an authentic experiment or research activity involving the institute lab series that can be used with students.
  7. Incorporate molecular genetics and genomics into the experiment or research activity that addresses fundamental issues in biology like cells, energetics, evolution, ecology, biodiversity.
  8. Incorporate a compelling hook, case, or scenario into the experiment or research activity that addresses relevant ethical, legal, and/or social issues.

Structure of the Learning:


Learners will explore the scientific principles as well as the ethical, legal,  and social implications of modern genetic and genomic research.  They will consider what aspects of genetics and genomics their students ought to know and will develop a curricular unit to address those needs.  They will also create a poster and article to share their ideas with other scientists and science teachers. 


Prior to the institute, the facilitators will email learners and direct them to the Biology 2001 web site that features a collection of statements and questions designed to stimulate thought on the range of social issues associated with genetic research.  Learners will discuss these issues on an online bulletin board, using three core resources identified by institute facilitators. After several weeks of discussion, participants will submit statements describing their preferred topics.  These postings will be used in July to guide the formation of institute "working groups". 

During the institute, all institute participants will engage in core activities including labs, seminars, lectures, and field trips. They will also have time to meet with their working groups to delve more deeply into a chosen topic and create several products to share their work.


 By the end of the institute, learners will:

  • Create a "mind map" to share at the American Museum of Natural History on July 19th, in conjunction with the instituteís public symposium, Teaching in the Age of the Genome.
  • Develop a curricular unit involving genetics, genomics, and genethics.
  • Author an article suitable for publication in a science education journal, such as The American Biology Teacher.

Best Use of Technology:

Prior to the institute, the geographically disparate learners will conduct two-way communication with each other using online bulletin board technology. They will use CD-ROMs and the Internet to obtain information about genetics and genomics that is otherwise inaccessible.

During the institute, digital cameras will be used to capture what is being done as the projects progress.  Learners will continue to use the Internet to gather information and communicate with experts in the fields of genetics and genomics.


  • The online bulletin board activity will serve as an informal assessment of learners' prior knowledge.
  • An informal pre- and post- test will gauge participant learning at the institute.
  • The Working Group Project Assessment Rubric will be used to evaluate final projects.  

Project Evaluation:

One day after the Biology Institute ends, facilitators will meet for debriefing.  They will discuss components of the pre-institute bulletin board activity and the working group projects, including the appropriateness of the time frame, the effectiveness of the group work, the level of communication with experts, and the best use of the internet.

Alignment with Standards:

The following National Science Education Standards will be addressed:

Teaching Standard A:  Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students. In doing this, teachers develop a framework of yearlong and short-term goals for students; select science content and adapt and design curricula to meet the interests, knowledge, understanding, abilities, and experiences of students; select teaching and assessment strategies that support the development of student understanding and nurture a community of science learners; work together as colleagues within and across disciplines and grade levels.

Teaching Standard B: Teachers of science guide and facilitate learning. In doing this, teachers focus and support inquiries while interacting with students; orchestrate discourse among students about scientific ideas; challenge students to accept and share responsibility for their own learning; recoginize and respond to student diversity and encourage all students to participate fully in science learning; encourage and model the skills of scientific inquiry as well as the curiosity, openness to new ideas and data, and skepticism that characterize science.

Teaching Standard D:  Teachers of science design and manage learning environments that provide students with the time, space, and resources needed for learning science. In doing this, teachers structure the time available so that students are able to engage in extended investigations; create a setting for student work that is flexible and supportive of scientific inquiry; ensure a safe working environment; make the available science tools, materials, media, and technological resources accessible to students; identify and use resources outside the school; engage students in designing the learning environment.

Content Standard C: As a result of their activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop an understanding of: the cell; molecular basis of heredity; biological evolution; interdependence of organisms; matter, energy, and organization in living systems; and behavior of organisms.

Content Standard D: As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop abilities of technological design and understandings about science and technology.

Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab , and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.

Author(s): Deborah Engel-Di Mauro (engel@woodrow.org
Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation-- Princeton, NJ
Created: February 15, 2001 - Updated: April 18, 2001
URL: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w01/projects/genethics/present.html