Bioinformatics is both applicable and accessible at the high school level. At its core, bioinformatics is biotechnology, a topic that is addressed in state and national standards. However, rather than “telling” about biotechnology, our student-centered bioinformatics based lessons allow students to “do.” The activities we offer are rich with data, encouraging students to use higher order thinking skills to understand scientific concepts in new and interesting ways.
Imagine high school students, from ninth grade through upper level advanced classes, engaged with current, “real life” data. Clustered around computers, they navigate through genetic sequences, questioning and discussing, scrutinizing statistical results before they choose – and justify their choice of – the few sequences that best answer their questions. Students are engaged in an inquiry-based lesson, sometimes in conjunction with wet lab-based activities, allowing them to develop thorough understandings of core content knowledge. Information that, in the past, was presented by the teacher to students is now accessed in a hands-on, inquiry based activity that focuses and engages the learners. Whether the topic be DNA replication, protein translation, genetic diseases, evolution or a wide range of other topics, Kathleen Gabric, author of Bioinformatics in the High School Classroom, explains that integrating bioinformatics can enhance the learning experience for all students.
The following articles offer more information about bioinformatics for high school students:
- Bioinformatics in the High School Classroom. Kathleen Gabric (2003).
- Lewitter F, Bourne PE (2011). Teaching Bioinformatics at the Secondary School Level. PLoS Comput Biol 7(10): e1002242. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002242
- Science and Technology Sources on the Internet: Guide to Selected Bioinformatics Internet Resources. UC Santa Cruz.
- Bioinformatics in High School Biology Curricula: A Study of State Science Standards. Stephen H. Wefer, and Keith Sheppard. (2007).