Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Genes are just apps our cells run

Been thinking through ways to make DNA and genetics understandable to my high school biology students.

Simple is important, and oversimplification is often necessary.

Thursday, we move into genetic engineering and the pros and cons of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a controversial topic these days, with all the calls for labelling GMO foods, protesting against Monsanto, etc.

And I've been listening to Made To Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath, and their S.U.C.C.E.S.S. check-list for making ideas stick--make them:


With technical concepts like the way that "information" in DNA is used to make proteins in your cells which then are used for all sorts of things in your body, and eventually create traits like eye color and who knows what else. It's hard to make a SUCCESSful message.

I wasn't able to hit all 6 criteria on the Heath brother's check-list, but here's what I came up with:

Genes are the apps our cells run.

I like it, but will they? We'll see.

It has lots of cool extensions: genetic engineering--making Glo Fish with jellyfish genes or making corn that can survive Round-Up herbicide--is just like downloading a new app into the cells of teh the fish or plants.

And just imagine what sorts of "apps" we might download into our own cells in the future?

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