Science education

DNA sequence traces are often used in cases where:
  1. We want to identify the source of the nucleic acid.
  2. We want to detect drug-resistant variants of human immune deficiency virus.
  3. We want to know which base is located at which position, especially where we might be able to diagnose a human disease or determine the best dose of a therapeutic drug.
In the future, these assays will likely rely more on automation. Currently, (at least outside of genome centers) many of these results are assessed by human technicians in clinical research labs, or DNA testing ... Read more
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 ... Read more
The Wired Campus has an interesting article on nursing students at Tacoma Community College. In John Miller's class, the students practice interviewing patients in Second Life. This sort of activity, of course, is one that could be carried out in a classroom, but I can see the advantages of having student interview other "people" who are for the most part, strangers. It will be a different and valuable experience. Read more
Congratulations to George Cachianes (who I've written about before), his amazing students from Abraham Lincoln High School, and collaborators at UCSF! These students, from a public high school no less, placed in the top 6 finalists, along with only one other US team. The other top teams were: Peking University (China), University of Science and Technology (China), University of Paris (France), University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), and UC Berkeley. I'm really impressed that these public high ... Read more
For many years, I had my biotech students do projects where each group of students would analyze their own data, in addition to all of the data gathered by the class. I would draw a table on the white board and each group would enter their data. At the end of the class, all the groups would copy all the results into their notebooks, then analyze them in Microsoft Excel. This worked pretty well, but it wasn't perfect. There were always cases where one group would be really slow, or someone had to leave early, or I needed to use the board and couldn't. And, this method certainly ... Read more
I had some strange notions when I made the jump from working at the lab bench to teaching at the white board. I thought good teaching meant interesting lectures. And I was completely unaware that people actually conducted research in science education. If I had been asked about education research, I would have replied that it was largely anecdotal, probably limited to sociologists and primary grades, and as far as I was concerned, useless.

And, honestly, to me it was useless.

I never saw any of science education articles or journals. No other ... Read more

Last year I wrote about an experiment where I compared a human mitochondrial DNA sequence to primate sequences in the GenBank. Since I wanted to know about the differences between humans, gorillas, and chimps, I used the Entrez query 'Great Apes' to limit my search to a set of sequences in the PopSet database that contained gorillas, bonobos, chimps, and human DNA. A week ago, I tried to repeat this experiment and...

It didn't work.

All I saw were human ... Read more

Reposted from Halloween 2006. Since Ben shared his family's taxonomy of candy types, and it's Friday, after all, I thought I'd share some of things that we do with candy around our house and describe some fun things that you can do with candy at home.i-c8e12594c8e6324919584154d2ccf530-candy_pile.jpg ... Read more

I missed my chance to get my own DonorsChoose challenge together, but that doesn't mean that you have to miss your chance to contribute and, of course:




It's easy.  Just head on over to one of these pages On Being a Scientist and a Woman   (Her teachers ... Read more

Metagenomics is a field where people interrogate the living world by isolating and sequencing nucleic acids. Since all living things have DNA, and viruses have either DNA or RNA, we can identify who's around by looking at bits of their genome. Researchers are using this approach to find the culprit that's killing the honeybees. We're also trying to find out who else shares our bodies, and lives in our skin, in our stomachs, and other places where the sun doesn't shine. Craig Venter used ... Read more

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