Genes at Work
This lesson is divided into three sections:
-- Preparing for the Lesson.
-- Conducting the Lesson.
-- Managing Resources and Student
If possible, students should view the INNOVATION video. For
information on purchasing videotapes of INNOVATION, visit
http://www.films.com or call 1-800-257-5126.
The following sites should be bookmarked:
Based on Thirteen/WNET's three-part PBS series, this Web piece
provides articles, animations, a glossary, and related links about
ground-breaking medical treatments and research, with
Electronic Desktop Project: The
An educational Web site about the principles of genetic inheritance,
Virtual FlyLab provides an opportunity for the student to play the
role of a research geneticist. Students design matings between female
and male fruit flies carrying
one or more genetic mutations. Students are then guided through the
process of analyzing the results.
DNA: The Instruction Manual for All Life
This site is an online exhibit presenting an interactive tour about
DNA: its structure, composition, and location within human cells.
This site is a resource for teachers and students interested in the
origins of classical genetics, introductory data analysis, elementary
plant science, and the history and literature of science. The site
be somewhat advanced for most grade 9-12 students, but they will find
the extensive glossary helpful.
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to
this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:
Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or
Internet Explorer 3.0
Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at
least 16 MB of RAM.
IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher
processor with at least 16
MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least
16 MB of
RAM, running Windows 95.
Recommended number of computers: one computer with Internet access
per pair or group of students. (If students do not have Web access,
print information that is on the Web site.)
For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in
wNetSchool's Internet Primer.
Divide the class into pairs or groups of three. Have
explore and discuss the following stories on the INNOVATION
Web piece: Sifting the Genes of Life and
Death, A Genetic Rescue for a Tattered Immune System, and The Making
of a New Egg. (Note: If you do not have enough computers, the
content can be printed out for each group.) Then have
the students answer the discussion questions below:
A. In Sifting the Genes of Life and Death, Laurie and Claudio
Masella, who are in good health, have a child born with a genetic
disease called epidermolysis bullosa. Why was their son, Joey, at
risk for this disease? Explain your answer in terms of the genetic
characteristics of Joey's parents, Laurie and Claudio.
Make sure that students have a clear understanding of what typifies
dominant and recessive genes and a clear understanding of the
concepts and ideas that are covered in this lesson.
B. The second couple in Sifting the Genes of Life and Death, Steve
and Fiona, have two children, a healthy child and a child with a
severe form of epidermolysis bullosa. How is it possible for one
sibling to have a genetic disease while her/his siblings do not (this
question assumes that the siblings have the same parents)?
C. Gene therapy is the subject of A Genetic Rescue for a Tattered
Immune System. In your own words, describe gene therapy. How is it
being used to treat young Andrew Gobea, who was born with severe
combined immunodeficiency (SCID)? Can it be used to treat Laurie
and Claudio's son, Joey? Explain your answer.
D. In The Making of a New Egg, Maureen and Michael conceive their
daughter, Emma, via cytoplasmic egg donation. Does Emma have her
parents' physical characteristics? Explain your answer.
Have students explore Sifting the Genes of Life and Death on the
INNOVATION Web piece.
The topic of Sifting the Genes of Life and Death is how a genetic
disease affects two families. Laurie and Claudio's son, Joey, was
born with epidermolysis bullosa (EB). This outcome was unexpected:
Both parents were healthy but they carried the recessive, defective
gene for this disease. It is difficult to predict whether a child
whose parents both carry recessive genes for a disease will have that
disease. The case of Steve and Fiona underscores this. Their daughter
Alison, born with a severe form of EB, was thought to be at low risk
because her older sister, Katie, was healthy.
Print and distribute the Vocabulary Sheet. For homework, have
students research the terms outlined on the vocabulary sheet.
Have students use the Genetics Chart to answer the following questions
regarding the possible outcomes in the genetic makeup of the
offspring of each of the two couples: Laurie (Female Parent) and
Claudio (Male Parent), and Fiona (Female Parent) and Steve (Male
Use the ovals on the chart to show the recessive and dominant genes.
For a dominant gene, fill in the oval; for a recessive gene, leave it
blank. Answer the following questions:
- What combinations of recessive and dominant genes could children
of these parents inherit?
- Does the sex of the children make any difference?
- Steve and Fiona's daughter Katie is healthy. Speculate about the
combination of recessive and dominant genes for EB she inherited.
- Make predictions about the health of each child on the chart.
- Suggest ways that Fiona and Steve might conceive a healthy baby.
What, if any, are the moral implications?
Electronic Desktop Project - Virtual
DNA: The Instruction Manual for All Life
Working in Groups
If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can
organize your class in several ways.
Divide your classroom into two groups. Instruct one of the groups to
do paper research while the second group is working on the computer.
Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc., from the library for the group
doing paper research. Lead the group working at the computer through
an Internet search or allow the students in the class to take turns.
(It may be efficient to have a set of bookmarks ready for the
students before they start working on the computer.) When the groups
have finished working have them switch places.
Look for Web Resources Together as a Class
If you have a big monitor or projection facilities you can do an
Internet search together as a class. Make sure that every student in
your class can see the screen. Go to the INNOVATION Web piece and review the information
presented there. Go to a search engine page, allow your students to
suggest the search criteria, and do an Internet search. Again,
bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for
Using a Computer Lab
A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of
one to three, is ideal for doing Web based projects. Generally, when
doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of
three. This way, students can help each other if problems or
questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for
students ahead of time and make suggestions. This way, you can be
sure that students have a starting point.
Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you
used the lesson in your classroom.