K-12 Genetics Outreach

We are a group of faculty researchers and graduate students who volunteer to visit local grade schools to bring the excitement of scientific discovery into North Carolina classrooms. We have created demonstrations to capture the imagination of the students, their parents and their teachers. Our group visits student classrooms to present a hands-on based learning experience in the area of genetics and developmental biology. We typically visit seventh through ninth grade classrooms, but have even visited a preschool classroom of 4-year olds to teach about the plant life cycle and extracted DNA with third graders.
To learn more or to have GO NCSU volunteers visit your classroom, please contact Bob Franks or Pat Estes by email: rgfranks@ncsu.edu or pat_estes@ncsu.edu

What we do

We have developed demonstrations about human genetics, the nematode worm C. elegans, and the Drosophila fruit fly. We have also developed an activity where the children can extract DNA from ground up peas using common household items (e.g., rubbing alcohol, liquid dishwashing detergent). We then give them the protocol and tell them that they can demonstrate the procedure for their parents at home. We have made presentations to over six hundred K–12 students over the past three years. Additionally, we presented our outreach program at the NCSU CALS Tailgate in 2005 and 2006. Here, we were able to demonstrate the DNA extraction procedure to many families and interested alumni. We hope that our outreach program excites students specifically about genetics and more generally about scientific exploration. We leave as many resources with the middle school teachers as possible and hope that they are able to continue to use these demonstrations in their classrooms in future years. We hope that our person-to-person contact with children, their parents and teachers allows us an opportunity to demonstrate for them our interest in our community and our enthusiasm for science and science education.

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