High school students uncover their past through their DNA

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Sandra Porter
Students at Soldan International High School are participating in an amazing experiment and breaking ground that most science teachers fear to tread. Soldan students, along with hundreds of thousands of other people, are participating in the National Geographic's Genographic Project. Through this project, students send in cheek swabs, DNA is isolated from the cheek cells, and genetic markers are used to look at ancestry. Genetic markers in the mitochondrial DNA are used to trace ancestry through the maternal line and markers on the Y chromosome can be used to learn about one's father. Most science instructors steer clear of these sorts of activities because there is a real possibility that children might learn some things in class that their parents would prefer remain secret. Any science instructor who's had to find a really creative way to explain why a student has the "wrong blood type" based on their parentage, will appreciate that analyzing Y chromosomes has potential for trouble. I wonder how the teachers at Soldan will answer those questions. References: From ASCD news brief and the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

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