Meeting: Working Group

Genetics and Genealogy: Teaching Evolution and Human Diversity to Middle School Students

Date11-Jan-2013 ~ 12-Jan-2013
ProjectGenetics and Genealogy: Teaching Evolution and Human Diversity to Middle School Students
SummaryIn this project, conferees will meet for two working group meetings at NESCent in late 2012 and early 2013 in order to develop a summer-camp curriculum for middle school students. The summer camp will be for youth between the 7th and 8th grades, especially those from underrepresented minorities and educationally underserved communities. At the two-week camp, students will explore individual genetic background, family history, and genealogy and gain knowledge of evolution, human diversity, and the fundamental principles of logical reasoning and scientific inquiry. The camp will apply the “genetics and genealogy” approach, which has been popularized by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in “Finding Your Roots” and other PBS programs. This approach has been shown to stimulate considerable interest in genealogy, genomic ancestry, and history among adults. The approach appears to be particularly efficacious for individuals whose ancestry is sketchy or unknown because of histories of enslavement and social peripheralization. We seek to test the proposal that a similar genetics- and-genealogy approach can be utilized to establish an understanding of evolution and the scientific method among middle-school age youth, and kindle interest in science and the pursuit of STEM careers. These premises will be explicitly tested as part of the experimental design of the camp experiences. The two proposed working group meetings will be concerned, respectively, with the development of: 1) the scientific content, curriculum delivery sequence, pedagogic design, and site choice for the camps; and 2) specification of the genomic/genetic and genealogical/family history research methods that will be employed in the camps.