NCHGR HIGH SCHOOL DNA SEQUENCING PARTNERSHIP

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

During the 1995-96 school year, the National Center for Human Genome Research (NCHGR) worked with six area high schools to bring high-tech research equipment and genetics technologies into their classrooms. As participants in NCHGR's DNA Sequencing Partnership program, students sequenced human DNA with the help of their teacher and an NCHGR scientist. The ultimate goal of the Human Genome Project is to decode, letter by letter, the exact sequence of all 3 billion bases that make up the human genome. Using a common laboratory method, students mark the different DNA bases, separate them according to their size and read the order of the bases within that particular segment of DNA. The Schools that participated were located from Baltimore to Fairfax and included: Walter Johnson High School, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Gonzaga High School, Sidwell Friends School, SL Paul's School and Charles E. Jewish Day School. There was one NCHGR scientist for each participating school. The scientist and teacher worked together to plan and carry out not only the sequencing lab experience but also any accompanying classroom learning activities. While materials and ideas for such activities were provided by the Genetics Education Office. The Partnerships program, modeled after an innovative outreach program developed at the University of Washington in Seattle, is part of a larger effort by the NCHGR Genetics Education Office to increase public understanding of human genetics and the Human Genome Project in particular. Programs like the DNA Sequencing Partnerships, which educate young people about genetic technologies like sequencing, will be an increasingly important part of science education. The year-long partnerships began with a fall "Kick Off' which coincided with the NIH Research Festival Nearly 200 students were greeted as fellow investigators by Dr. Francis Collins, the director of NCHGR, who also explained the mission of the Human Genome Project and its current status. The students were then introduced to the science behind Sanger sequencing of DNA and provided information about the latest technological advances in this technique. Finally, they heard about some of the ethical and legal implications of this research. The schools were then free to spend the rest of the day attending Research Festival events all over the NIH campus. The school year ended with a Spring Wrap Up Program on the NIH campus. The program included a play, The Cutting Edge, which gave them a glimpse of the implications of this research. The students watched as many of the issues implicit in genetic research were brought to life. This Wrap Up was designed to showcase the interests and scientific efforts of the students and their schools. Students presented the results of their research projects during a poster session that day. The posters remained on display for the NIH scientific community for several days. The Human Genome Project is the first worldwide effort to map every human gene and sequence the length of human DNA. The DNA in genes is arranged in specific sequences, and these sequences make up the genetic code. Knowing the sequence of DNA in a gene is essential if scientists are to understand what the function of the gene is normally, and how errors in that sequence can cause gene malfunction and disease. The Partnership is part of a larger effort by NCHGR to increase public understanding of human genetics, programs this will be an increasingly important part of science education.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date1/1/017/31/96

Funding

  • National Human Genome Research Institute
  • National Human Genome Research Institute
  • National Human Genome Research Institute

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