Educational Research

Dr. Barbara Baumstark’s research project is focused on finding effective ways to teach genetics.  Using the common metaphor of DNA as a language, Baumstark’s team predicts that the language of DNA, like other second languages, can be successfully mastered by children at an early age. With funds provided by the NIH Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), the team has created DNA is Elementary, a set of learning modules developed to teach children in grades K through 5 about classical and molecular genetics.  The modules take advantage of the young learners’ facility with language acquisition by representing DNA as an instructional manual with specific directions for making each unique organism. The team is now building on its experiences with students in the K-5 arena by offering these learning modules to multi-age family groups in an informal science setting. Their long-term goal is to design a program tailored to different age groups, so that all members of society can gain the knowledge and skills to become genetically literate citizens.