How to Teach Basic Genetics to High School Students


The nucleus in each and every one of your cells carries a lot of detailed information about its particular anatomy and collectively it forms a physical encyclopedia of the individual you. DNA is the primary source of intelligence data and it is found inside the nucleus. DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid. It is the DNA which encodes the information on a “double helix”. A double helix is a molecule shaped like a twisting ladder or train track. The connectors between the tracks are built with a four letter alphabet. Those letters are A, C, T and G.

A always pairs with T and C always pairs with G. A stands for Adenine. T stands for Thymine. C stands for Cytosine. G stands for Guanine.

Adenine and Thymine always work together. They are married and known as a “base pair”. We call shall call them the TATA couples. Adenine and Thymine have a hydrogen bond between them. Two hydrogen atoms to be specific.

Cytosine and Guanine always work together. This couple is bound by three hydrogen bonds.

The DNA strand is made of letters. Which make words. Which make sentences. These letters, words and sentences are contained within our chromosomes.

It is from this microscopic environment that our hair, eye and skin color is pre-arranged. Hereditarily speaking, every human child receives 23 chromosomes from its mother and 23 from its father. The contribution of chromosomes is always random and therefore ensures the individual traits of each child.

There are three types of Traits we will be concerned with. They are Physical, Behavioral and Predisposition to medical condition.

To introduce you to genetics, I’ve chosen first to address the myths of genetics. We will be studying the work of Garland E. Allen, Phd. He has done much research on the subject of eugenics and the idea that criminality is somehow genetic. Then we will look closely at DNA and its work with RNA which is found in the cell’s cytoplasm. We will also be visiting a geneticist who will be guiding us on a tour of his work laboratory and he will let us in on some of research findings.

Tonight, for homework, you will write down the physical traits of your parents and siblings and your own. We will discuss the similiarities and not so similar traits tomorrow in class. For those of you who are adopted ask your parents about their parents physical traits. If your parents were also adopted, go find a biological family and interview them.