South Orangetown Middle School seventh-graders have engaged in a series of hands-on projects this winter as part of a science unit on genetics. Their culminating project? “Best in Show: Top Dogs”–a challenge to create a dog by piecing together DNA segments.
First, students randomly selected cards featuring random DNA sequences associated with eight traits: body shape, fur type, coat color, head shape, tail, ears, eyes and legs. Then, based on the traits associated with the segments in hand, they genetically composed a dog. Once the full sequence was complete, students drew annotated diagrams of their genetically-engineered canines. A “Best in Show: Top Dogs” display in the classroom features their work.
“Genetics is one of those topics that triggers so much curiosity and questions. They really enjoyed it,” said Martinez. “Luckily, we are not done with genetics and will continue to build on it as we move through the curriculum.”