Creating DNA sculptures with candy, schoolwide swabbing events, and family interviews are just a few ways that teachers have incorporated the Genographic Project into their curriculum. The Genographic Project offers a range of interactive opportunities for students to give them the chance to learn about the world and themselves; they realize that although they may look different from one another and have unique cultural characteristics, they are more alike their classmates than they ever thought. Teachers at schools and universities use the Genographic Project as a collaborative platform at multiple levels to pull across disciplines to instruct students about the ancient migratory history of the human species.
Teachers are encouraged to use and share the online lesson plans, videos, and classroom tools that are available on National Geographic Education’s website.
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A new Genographic Project initiative, Geno Threads enables science, culture, and geography to be naturally woven into a shared educational experience.
Geno Threads connects students and teachers who are using Genographic materials around the globe. Students can share results with one another, communicating via email and video conference—for a truly global learning experience.
To take part in Geno Threads, email GenoThreads@ngs.org to learn more.
Examples of Genographic in the Classroom
• Port Allegany High School, Port Allegany, PA: Honors Biology students in Mrs. Shuey’s class followed the footsteps of human migration through a travel blog. After participating in the Genographic Project, the students received their results, and were inspired to personalize the journey further. Mrs. Shuey set up the initial travel blog and then students made their way to every location that Project Director Dr. Spencer Wells visited in the documentary Journey of Man. Each student provided factual support that our ancient ancestors passed through each location, providing photos and a description of the area. They researched populations indigenous to each region and explained necessary travel expenses (airfare, transportation to various locations of interest, and other miscellaneous expenses). Visit the students’ travel blog.
• Cornell Genetic Ancestry Project: In 2010, the first ever Cornell Genetic Ancestry Project was launched at Cornell University.
Inspired by the National Geographic Channel documentary The Human Family Tree, 200 randomly selected Cornell students lined up to see if their collective DNA could represent all of humanity’s ancient migration paths. Genographic Project staff and Cornell graduate students assisted in the process. Later in the year, Project Director Dr. Spencer Wells, also a Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor at Cornell, gave a lecture summarizing the results of the semester-long project. Other universities have created this type of project on their own campuses.
• Silk Road Connect: Genographic partnered with the Silk Road Project and the New York City Department of Education to launch a pilot program—Silk Road Connect. As part of this multidisciplinary educational initiative, 450 sixth-grade students from New York City public schools swabbed to find out their own deep ancestry. Throughout the school year, the Genographic Project took part in teacher training sessions and visited classrooms to facilitate swabbing and result reveals. Now in its third year, Silk Road Connect has expanded to include schools in Boston, Massachusetts.
• Chicago’s Sister City International Program: Genographic partners with the Silk Road Project and Chicago’s Sister City International Program. More than 700 students from five Chicago public schools—along with 50 students from each of the Chicago Sister Cities International Program twin schools overseas—participated in the Genographic Project. The schools were given Genographic lesson plans, and the Genographic team helped facilitate the testing process and results.
• TALENTUM Oportunidades Educativas AC, Monterrey, Mexico: The Genographic Project conducted a training session with 80 local teachers at the Alfa Planetarium in Monterrey to discuss the opportunities for the project in the classroom. The goal of the session, run in collaboration with TALENTUM Oportunidades Educativas, was to provide teachers with tools and information about the Genographic Project to eventually reach over 6,000 students offering the opportunity to explore history, understand migration, learn the basics of DNA, and celebrate their own ancestry.
Do you use the Genographic Project in your school or classroom? Email GenoThreads@ngs.org and tell us your story.
Photographs by: Denise Foston (candy DNA), Marilyn Rivchin (Cornell), Lindsay Maiorana (Yo-Yo Ma), Eduardo Rubiano (people with map)