Activity 8-1: Investigating the Human Genome Project
Summary Each student selects a chromosome and gathers information about that chromosome from the Human Genome Project. Based on the information received, students conduct further research on one of the genes on that chromosome. They explain the scientific discoveries leading to the identification of that gene and investigate the trait (genetic expression) of the gene. If the gene selected has a known disorder, students can focus on the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments (current and future) of the disorder. Students present the results of their research to the class.
- Human Genome Project addresses
- Computer with Internet connection; or letter paper, envelope, and stamp
- Presentation materials
Human Genome materials: Map of the Human Genome; Other free materials available upon request: “Maps to Medicine” and “To Know Ourselves”
Plan early to arrange for a guest speaker such as a human genome scientist, geneticist, medical geneticist, or genetics educational outreach speaker from the Human Genome Project or March of Dimes.
Ask for help from your school or community resource center to begin gathering information about the Human Genome Project and genetic diseases.
Contact your local March of Dimes organization to explore available education information about genetic diseases. Their telephone number should be listed in your local telephone book. This can also be done by phone (1-888-MODIMES or 1-888-663-4637), or by using a search engine and entering a search for March of Dimes. Following are two examples of March of Dimes Web sites.
- Consider your local hospital and university resources for enhancing student career information about opportunities in genetics and medicine.
- Optional: Request free copies of “The Genome Project: Maps to Medicine” (NIH Publication No. 96-3897) and/or a video about the Human Genome Project through the following address or phone number:
Office of Communications
National Center for Human Genome Research
National Institutes of Health
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 29892
Telephone number: 301-402-0911
- Optional: Request free copies of “To Know Ourselves” an informative and well illustrated publication from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Human Genome Project by contacting:
DOE Human Genome Project
Department of Energy
19901 Germantown Road ER-72
Germantown, MD, 20874
- Genome information Internet Web sites include, but are not limited to the following:
NIH site: National Human Genome Research Institute
Variable, this activity could be assigned early and take place over the course of the genetics unit. It could include the following.
- one-half to one period to draft a class letter
- one-half to one period to distribute Human Genome Information received, and discuss research
- at least one class period using the computer at school or at home to research their gene
- one period for finalizing student presentations
- one period for student presentations
These suggestions for class time can be shortened if students complete parts of the assignments at home.
- Help students construct a class letter requesting the desired information from the Human Genome Project. Correspondence with the Genome Center should go through the teacher (that explains the reason for a class letter).
- Encourage students to use different presentation formats and ways of organizing their presentations. Be sure to go over requirements for any visual aids (such as transparencies, overhead projectors, posters, TV and VCR, etc.), use of a computer, and time limitations. You may want to give students class time to plan, implement, and finalize their presentations.
Art Students can draw a map of their chromosome on a poster and label genes that have been identified.
Social Studies Students can investigate how information generated from the Human Genome Project and resulting genetic testing might affect health insurance programs and/or job opportunities.
Math Students can include research information on the tax based funding sources for the Human Genome Project and how these moneys are being spent.
Prerequisites and Background
If Sections 1-8 have not yet been completed when this activity is assigned, students may need extra help with their research at first, but should become more independent as they go through the unit. Computer skills would be helpful.
Consider beginning this activity early in the genetics unit, to allow students time for their research and preparation for their presentations.
Plan ahead if you wish to invite a guest speaker on genetic research, a scientist from the Human Genome Project, or a genetic counselor. (See suggestions in Advance Preparation section.)
Steps 1-2 The members of Human Genome Project are very busy, so creating a letter as a class is the best approach for contacting the project for information.
Steps 3-4 This activity is designed to be implemented using your choice of a variety of methods including computer with a search engine, Web site addresses, postal mail, telephone, and local community resources. Schedule the presentations and consider having students present to other classes, other teachers, or consider inviting guests.
Use the completion of the research and the project presentation to assess if students can
- Sample answers to these questions will be provided upon request. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request sample answers.
- What is the difference between a multiple gene disorder and a chromosomal disorder?
- What are some risk factors for acquiring certain diseases, such as cancer or heart disease?
- Why is genetic counseling useful?
- What do population geneticists do?