Ghost in your Genes

This lesson plan includes discussion materials for the video, “Ghost in your Genes” by NOVA.  This video explores many scientific applications of genetic investigations that primarily involve the epigenome, or how the body’s chemical network controls how genes are expressed.  A mock microarray analyses activity is also detailed in the plan as an activity that could follow the video.  The microarray analyses activity could be done as a stand-alone activity without the video. This video and lesson are heavily connected to the scientific ramifications of emerging research surrounding the human genome and genetic technologies.  This activity is also rooted in an understanding of DNA, genes, and genetic traits.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3002.2.5
Understand strategies for expressing ideas clearly and effectively in a variety of oral contexts.
CLE 3210.4.1
Investigate how genetic information is encoded in nucleic acids.
CLE 3210.4.2
Describe the relationships among genes, chromosomes, proteins, and hereditary traits.
CLE 3210.4.7
Assess the scientific and ethical ramifications of emerging genetic technologies.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

Students will be able to:

  • define DNA microarray and gene expression.
  • describe how microarrays are used to determine gene expression.
  • explain how understanding gene expression can lead to improved treatments for disease.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 

Helpful Hints

Materials for Teacher:

  • 1 white plastic ice cube tray per team, with at least 12 wells
  • 500 mL vinegar
  • 600 mL salt water (600mL water mixed with 6 Tbsp. salt)
  • 500 mL of water
  • pipettes
  • small self-stick notes

Materials for Each Team:

  • copy of “Checking Up on Genes” student handout
  • copy of “How DNA Microarrays Work” student handout
  • copy of “Gene Locations on Array” student handout
  • copy of “Cancer Therapies” student handout
  • 15 mL of phenolphthalein
  • pipettes