Fermilab LInC Online

Genetics, Genethics, and Genomics




Participant Pages


Index of Projects



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."  

Beginning/Getting Started

Biology Institute participants receive an email message on April 25, 2001 telling them about a pre-institute online activity they will begin in early June. 

Dear Institute Participants:

Although July may still seem rather far away, itís never too early to start gearing up for the summer biology institute.  In order to start getting to know each other and to begin thinking together about the myriad ethical issues associated with genetic and genomic research, we are encouraging everyone to participate in an online bulletin board conversation.  Weíll kick off the discussion at the end of May, jumping off from a few resources that we suggest everyone take a look at.  These resources are:

  • The National  Human Genome Research Institute's free educational kit.  Please order your own copy at http://www.nhgri.nih.gov/educationkit/.
  • Cracking the Genome: Inside the Race to Unlock Human DNA by Ken Davies.  
  • Nova's Cracking the Code of Life episode.  It will air on PBS stations throughout the country on April 17, 2001 and will be available online at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/genome/ after April 18. 

The institute facilitators will guide you through a conversation stemming from these resources and branching out into various issues and topics of interest to you.  We hope that the discussions will get your creative juices flowing and help you identify a few topics you might want to explore further during the institute.

We will be using Blackboard as our bulletin board platform. In the coming weeks we will send instructions on how to register yourself with Blackboard and access the Woodrow Wilson conversation area.  So, please stay tuned and keep checking your email at least once or twice a week.


Deborah Engel-DiMauro
Assistant Director, Leadership Program for Teachers


Middle/In Progress 

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 discussions. 


Then they are asked to participate in a bulletin board discussion and are prompted with these questions: 

  • What are the main issues emerging from recent developments in genetics and genomics?
  • What are the legal and ethical implications?
  • What 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 questions.

  • 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 curricular unit.

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: 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/scenario.html