Date of Award

8-7-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Barbara Baumstark

Second Advisor

George Pierce

Third Advisor

Sidney Crow

Abstract

In recent years, there has been a nation-wide effort to increase the application of genetics-based solutions to problems of medical, agricultural, and environmental importance. Before high school, the only exposure that Georgia students will have regarding genetics will not encompass the applications of DNA that exist in the world around them. Implicit in this delay is the assumption that genetic concepts are simply too complex for younger children to understand. Under the auspices of Georgia State University’s (GSU) Bio-Bus program, I proposed to determine whether the apparent ease with which young children appear to master second languages can be harnessed to teach them about DNA and genetics. To accomplish this, a set of entertaining and informative learning modules (to be called DNA is Elementary) that present genetic concepts to young students (ages 5 through 12) was designed. Whenever possible, the activities associated with these modules focused on the parallels between our 26-letter alphabet and the four-letter alphabet used by DNA in its role as the instructional manual for the cell. The Bio-Bus and Bio-Bus personnel traveled to participating schools and presented the activities to K-5 students. The effectiveness of these modules was measured through the use of feedback forms designed to measure changes in content knowledge and attitude before and after the presentations. The primary objective of this project was to identify the most effective ways to inspire an interest in and an understanding of molecular genetics among young students, with the ultimate goal of making a contribution toward the establishment of a scientifically literate society.

Available for download on Friday, July 17, 2020

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