Summer Youth Enrichment Program class: DNA Days

This week-long class is designed to teach middle-school students in the district's summer youth enrichment program about the science of DNA, genetics, and heredity. Through mostly hands-on activities, we'll learn about what DNA is and how it directly affects the passage of traits from one generation to the next. For example, we'll construct models of DNA, and we'll practice using the DNA code by making beaded bracelets. We'll extract DNA from fruit to see what DNA looks like to the naked eye. We'll play games that help distinguish the difference between inherited and acquired traits, and we'll cross-polinate some fast-growing plants to see how hereditary traits are passed through generations. We'll play some find-and-catch games to learn about adaptation and natural selection. We'll use a light-sensitive form of yeast to test how well sunscreen protects DNA from damage caused by ultraviolet light, and we'll use gel electrophoresis to simulate a forensics study that relies on DNA fingerprinting. We'll also simulate a genetic mapping experiment to learn how disease genes are identified, and we'll use pom-poms and simple statistics to explore the idea of genetic risk factors and what they mean. All of these activities have been designed and selected for middle-school students, and they are all very doable within the time frame, but the assistance of another set of hands and eyes to oversee the implementation of the various projects (many of which involve multiple interdependent steps) will be especially helpful. The volunteer will meet with me during the half-hour pre-class preparation time to become familiar with the day's activities. The volunteer will then interact with the class members during opening activities while I greet & sign in the arriving students. The volunteer will help distribute materials for the activities. I will lead the discussions and guide the activities, but the volunteer and I will both circulate through the class and assist students as needed. The volunteer will also assist with post-activity clean-up as needed.

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Tracy Kuhlman
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(919) 270-9766
1009 Tallyho Trail
Chapel Hill
North Carolina
United States, 27516