DNA Decoded Offers Digital Resources for Educators and Students in Celebration of DNA Day

Apr 19, 2021 6:45 PM ET
Campaign: Community

Over 65 years ago, deoxyribonucleic acid (more commonly referred to as DNA) was discovered by a team of scientists led by Rosalind Franklin, Maurice Wilkins, and James Watson. DNA impacts our lives each day, whether we realize it or not.  From helping us to understand and fight diseases like cancer to providing juries information to setting wrongly convicted prisoners free and a billion ways in between, DNA is a critical part of our lives.

To celebrate the significance of DNA, National DNA Day is observed each year on April 25th. Recognizing both the discovery of DNA and the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, National DNA Day provides learners an opportunity to dive into the fascinating world of DNA and genomic research.

Through DNA Decoded – an initiative from the Illumina Corporate Foundation and Discovery Education – educators, students, and families discover dynamic digital resources that bring scientific exploration and real-world problem solving to life in fresh and exciting ways. DNA Decoded offers over a dozen of NGSS-aligned lesson plans and digital lesson bundles that prepare high school teachers and students to explore the ways research around DNA is changing the world. These versatile and topically relevant digital lesson bundles and hands-on activities investigate relatable, DNA-focused topics.

Preparing to recognize DNA Day in your classroom offers the perfect opportunity to dive into the cutting-edge STEM fields and see how genomics professionals are driving innovation in a variety of areas, science-based and beyond. Below, you will see several ways you can easily leverage the resources available:

Classroom Activities: Designed for in-person or remote learning, these less-than-an-hour activities with virtual adaptations engage students in dynamic projects aligned to multiple learning standards, while also demonstrating how DNA impacts the world.

  • In Genes or The Gym?students work in groups to develop original research that explores whether athletic ability is determined by genetics, environment, or a combination of both.
  • In Why Bats? Disease Transmission to Humans, students use multimedia resources, like videos and puzzles, to discover how diseases, like COVID-19, jump from animals to infect humans in an event called spillover.

Digital Lesson Bundles: These curated bundles provide educators lesson plans, presentation materials, speakers notes and activities to crack the genomic code with ready-to-use content built for wherever learning is taking place in any learning style.

With Breaking the Chain—Viral Transmission, students discover how data helps us track and stop virus infections (like COVID-19)through a series of activities and resources that answer three key questions:

  • How is technology used to collect data and track the spread of viruses?
  • How do viruses enter cells and use them for reproduction and what role do genetic mutations play in viral transmission?
  • How could viral structure be genetically modified to prevent infection and spread of disease?

In The Microbiome and Mental Health, help students learn about the relation between mental health and a person’s microbiome to create an infographic exploring:

  • How the gut-brain connection influences our mental health.
  • Mental and physical consequences of depression and anxiety.
  • Whether or not altering or supporting your microbiome through foods helps prevent poor mental health.

Skype a Scientist: Skype a Scientist is an organization that connects students and classrooms to real-life scientists covering hundreds of topics throughout the year.  During the month of April, they will be featuring a few sessions that will unveil the amazing world of DNA and STEM from the perspective of an expert in the field. In this session – Bringing DNA Day into Your Classroom throughout April​ with Illumina – educators learn how to incorporate the power of the genome into any classroom setting! Plus, keep an eye out for two more Skype a Scientist sessions in April:

  • 4/28 session on Careers in Biotech for high school students
  • 4/29 for elementary and middle school students about all the amazing ways we can see DNA in the world around us and how cool DNA and science is.

Learn more and register today!

Together, these resources empower students to unlock genomics fundamental principles and apply them to the real-life problems. You can find these resources and more at dnadecoded.org and on Discovery Education’s K-12 learning platform.