Lesson Plan Feature: Risky Genetics

The lesson Risky Genetics from NOVA scienceNOW allows students in grades 9-12 to explore genetic testing for three specific diseases — breast cancer, lung disease and Alzheimer’s — and consider the pros and cons of discovering a person’s genotype for a particular disease.

Students play the role of genetic counselors who counsel patients about their genetic test results for genes associated with these three diseases. With the rolling of dice with a partner, each “counselor”  creates a male or female character with a unique genotype.  Other activities ask students to analyze genetic data for their “patients,” compare their characters’ risks of developing the diseases, and predict the disease risks for the next generation.

Among resources, teachers are provided with a  Risky Genetics Teacher Blackline Master and a Risky Genetics Student Handout for students.   Media resources include:

The lesson also has many links to other resources aligned to the PBS LearningMedia curriculum frameworks in biotechnologies, genetic engineering, human genetics, Mendelian genetics, molecular mechanisms of DNA, and scientists/process.

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