A recently developed educational website about genetics—GeneEd.nlm.nih.gov—is helping teachers inform their students about genetic topics in ways that are more interactive, up-to-date, and engaging.
For Kathryn Sander, a science teacher at Thomas S. Wootton High School in Rockville, Maryland, teaching her students about genetics has always had its challenges.
"With genetics, one of the difficulties is that it's very abstract for a lot of students," she says. "You can see organisms and body systems, but when you are talking about genetics, presenting it to students in a way that's more visual is something they really need."
That's one of the reasons that Sander is teaching genetics using GeneEd Web, a website that helps educators teach genetics topics more effectively. The Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS) of the National Library of Medicine, in collaboration with the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), teachers, and experts in genetics and genetic counseling, released the website in 2012.
GeneEd is a safe and useful resource for students and teachers in grades 9-12 to learn genetics. Topics include cell biology, DNA, genes, chromosomes, and much more. GeneEd also provides lesson plans, genetic educational materials, printable activity sheets, and other teaching resources for educators seeking to increase genetic and genomic literacy.
"When I first looked at GeneEd, one of the things that struck me was how up-to-date the information was," says Sander. "A lot of the topics we cover, there's not a lot of information because it's so new. The fact that GeneEd had that information and had it in a way the kids could understand really impressed me."
Teachers can use the site to introduce topics, supplement existing materials, and provide as a reliable source to students conducting research. The site links to categories such as research articles, animation, games, videos, interactive tutorials, and labs and experiments. 3D images, illustrations, and text from the NHGRI Talking Glossary (www.genome.gov/glossary/index.cfm) help to enrich the user experience by providing vivid imagery to reinforce genetic concepts.
Karen Gutzman, National Library of Medicine, contributed to the article.