It’s “(DNA for) Dinner” Time
Posted: Sunday, May 1st, 2011
by Peggy G. Lemaux and Barbara Alonso
Update as of January 27, 2014. There has been a change since this article was published in May 2011. In order to download the free curricular materials you are now asked to complete a request form. Please visit http://ucbiotech.org/dnafordinner/ for details.
The creation of this 4-H/afterschool curriculum, “DNA for Dinner”, was sparked by development of the national 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) initiative. The 4-H program, which currently involves nearly 6 million youth in urban, suburban and rural communities, created the new SET initiative to try to reach another 1 million young people. The SET initiative encouraged curriculum development in wide topic areas, but biotechnology curricula were noticeably absent!
The five lessons in the “DNA for Dinner” curriculum, designed for fifth through eighth graders, include the following.
- Dare to Be Different, focusing on organisms and genetic diversity
- Language of Life, covering genomes and the genetic code
- DNA for Dinner, focusing on genes, DNA, and reproduction
- Building Blocks to Organisms covering amino acids, proteins and enzymes and
- From Bread to Biotech, focused on classical breeding, genetic engineering, and restriction enzymes.
Each lesson has an introduction, open-ended discussion questions, math puzzles and three to five hands-on, computer-based or physical activities to demonstrate key points of the lesson. All lessons are available for download as PDFs at http://ucbiotech.org/dnafordinner. Lesson content was designed to meet the National Science Education Standards and can be used in whole or in part in various after-school and during-school venues.
An example of the learning goals, an activity and a math puzzle from Lesson 1, “Dare to Be Different”, is shown below.
What We Learn in Lesson 1. That all living things, organisms, are made up of cells. That the variation in organisms reflects their diversity. That the variety comes from the different genes and the characteristics they encode. And that organisms with many similar traits, and thus with similar genetic information, may be related.
An Activity from Lesson 1. Fruit and Vegi Hunt
Remind participants that fruits and vegetables have different characteristics and also different names. Challenge them to find in the word search a fruit or vegetable that has the characteristics given in the hint.
A Math Activity from the Math Menu of Lesson 1.
If there are 3,500 species of mammals and 350,000 different species of plants, how many times more plant species are there?
For more information, please visit http://ucbiotech.org/dnafordinner.
Peggy G. Lemaux is the cooperative extension specialist at University of California, Berkeley and Barbara Alonso is the communications specialist at University of California, Berkeley.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…