Dana Waring and colleagues at the Personal Genetics Education Project have put together an excellent set of resources for teachers and professors. The first few lesson plans are freely available for download at http://genepath.med.harvard.edu/WuLab/pgEd/curricula.html.
For example, the first lesson plan is geared toward a general discussion of ethical questions regarding genetic testing and possible consequences. Discussion centers on the story of a young girl who, after watching her grandfather’s decline due to Huntington’s, decided to get herself tested and the fallout that ensued upon learning she tested positive.
There has been much media hype lately about genetic tests and genome wide SNP tests from companies such as 23andme and Navigenics, yet, many do not have a working understanding genetic testing and its implications. Waring does a good job discussing the possible negative outcomes of having a genetic test, and she demonstrates why it’s so important to consult with a physician or genetic counselor before getting a high penetrance genetic test such as the one for Huntington’s. Students are forced to think about the issues at hand and how genetic testing will play a large role in not only their medical futures, but also their day to day lives.
I’m looking forward to reviewing more of Dana and her team’s material, and I hope professors and teachers who read Think Gene will consider taking advantage of this educational resource and integrate it into their curriculum. This generation of students will be the first to have to make decisions about genetic tests, and I feel it’s our duty to properly educate them so they are prepared.
UPDATE: What do secondary education teachers think about Waring’s Personal Genetics Education Project?
Jane Yates, a veteran teacher (and my mother) writes:
The Personal Genomes 101 summary is a great quick resource. The lesson plans could be helpful to a teacher, but they should list which national and state standards to which it relates. Teachers probably would not use the PowerPoint slides. I don’t think that the lessons would be used much by High School teachers, however, it is a great resource for a student who would be assigned a biology research paper or an English position paper.