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Simply InGEN(E)ious! How Creative DNA Modeling Can Enrich Classic Hands-On Experimentation

    Authors: Julia Mierdel1,*, Franz X. Bogner1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Education, Centre of Math and Science Education, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth 95447, Germany
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Received 04 September 2019 Accepted 04 March 2020 Published 29 May 2020
    • ©2020 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • Supplemental materials available at http://asmscience.org/jmbe
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Lehrstuhl Didaktik der Biologie, Universitätsstr. 30, Gebäude NWI, 95447 Bayreuth, Germany. Phone: +49 921-55-2590. E-mail: [email protected].
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2020 vol. 21 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i2.1923
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    Abstract:

    Innovative 21st-century methods for teaching biology should provide both content knowledge and diverse scientific competencies. The Curriculum Guidelines of the American Society for Microbiology highlight the importance of developing scientific thinking skills, which include the abilities to formulate hypotheses, to communicate fundamental concepts effectively, and to analyze and interpret experimental results. Additionally, contemporary science education should enhance creativity and collaboration as key student assets in its bid to overcome negative perceptions and learning difficulties. In recent years, the expanding movement for so-called “STEAM” approaches (science, technology, engineering, , and math) has increased in STEM curricula. The movement seeks to integrate the arts into science classes to transfer enthusiasm, support individual self-sufficiency, and encourage creative solutions. To meet all these demands, we developed an inquiry-based approach that actively engages students in hands- and minds-on activities on the topic of “decoding the DNA structure” in an outreach laboratory. Since teaching abstract molecular phenomena is a challenge in biology classes, we combine classical experimental tasks (DNA isolation, gel electrophoresis) with creative modeling. The experiments are linked by the modeling phase: immersed in the story of the discovery of the DNA structure, our participants independently construct a DNA model from a box filled with inexpensive craft supplies (e.g., glue, straws, pipe cleaners, beads). After initial pilot testing, the implementation of our approach clearly produced short- and mid-term learning effects among the students, providing a successful example of a STEAM-based approach in a laboratory setting.

References & Citations

1. Griffiths AJF, Wessler SR, Carroll SB, Doebley J 2015 Introduction to genetic analysis 11th ed Macmillan Education New York
2. Watson JD, Crick FHC 1953 Molecular structure of nucleic acids: a structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid Nature 171 737 738 10.1038/171737a0 13054692 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/171737a0
3. Judson HF 1996 The eighth day of creation: makers of the revolution in biology (25th anniversary ed) Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press Plainview, NY
4. Watson JD 1968 The double helix Penguin Books London
5. Langheinrich J, Bogner FX 2015 Student conceptions about the DNA structure within a hierarchical organizational level: improvement by experiment- and computer-based outreach learning Biochem Mol Biol Educ 43 6 393 402 10.1002/bmb.20888 26481196 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bmb.20888
6. Buckley BC 2000 Interactive multimedia and model-based learning in biology Int J Sci Educ 22 9 895 935 10.1080/095006900416848 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/095006900416848
7. Rotbain Y, Marbach-Ad G, Stavy R 2006 Effect of bead and illustrations models on high school students’ achievement in molecular genetics J Res Sci Teach 43 5 500 529 10.1002/tea.20144 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.20144
8. Chow B 2010 The quest for deeper learning Educ Week 6 1 3
9. Runco MA, Acar S, Cayirdag N 2017 A closer look at the creativity gap and why students are less creative at school than outside of school Think Skills Creat 24 242 249 10.1016/j.tsc.2017.04.003 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tsc.2017.04.003
10. Mierdel J, Bogner FX 2019 Is creativity, hands-on modeling and cognitive learning gender-dependent? Think Skills Creat 31 91 102 10.1016/j.tsc.2018.11.001 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tsc.2018.11.001
11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2009 Biosafety in microbiological and biomedical laboratories (BMBL) https://www.cdc.gov/labs/pdf/CDC-BiosafetyMicrobiologicalBiomedicalLaboratories-2009-P.PDF Accessed 2 July 2019
12. American Society for Microbiology 2012 Guidelines for biosafety in teaching laboratories https://www.asm.org/ASM/media/Education/ASM-Biosafety-Guidelines.pdf Accessed 2 July 2019
13. Scharfenberg FJ, Bogner FX 2011 A new two-step approach for hands-on teaching of gene technology: effects on students’ activities during experimentation in an outreach gene technology lab Res Sci Educ 41 4 505 523 10.1007/s11165-010-9177-2 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11165-010-9177-2
14. American Society of Human Genetics 2011 Genetics education outreach network (GEON) http://www.ashg.org/education/k12_geon.shtml Accessed 7 January 2019
15. ISB 2007 Bavarian Syllabus Gymnasium G8 Kastner, Wolnzach Germany
16. Oh PS, Oh SJ 2011 What teachers of science need to know about models: an overview Int J Sci Educ 33 8 1109 1130 10.1080/09500693.2010.502191 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2010.502191
17. Mierdel J, Bogner FX 2019 Investigations of modellers and model viewers in an out-of-school gene-technology laboratory Res Sci Educ 1 22 doi.org/10.1007/s11165-019-09871-3
18. Justi RS, Gilbert JK 2002 Modelling, teachers’ views on the nature of modelling, and implications for the education of modellers Int J Sci Educ 24 4 369 387 10.1080/09500690110110142 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500690110110142
19. Schmitz RP 2015 Chemie Interaktiv http://www.chemie-interaktiv.net/jsmol_viewer_3a.htm Accessed 7 January 2019
20. Lead States NGSS 2013 Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States National Academies Press Washington, DC

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Abstract:

Innovative 21st-century methods for teaching biology should provide both content knowledge and diverse scientific competencies. The Curriculum Guidelines of the American Society for Microbiology highlight the importance of developing scientific thinking skills, which include the abilities to formulate hypotheses, to communicate fundamental concepts effectively, and to analyze and interpret experimental results. Additionally, contemporary science education should enhance creativity and collaboration as key student assets in its bid to overcome negative perceptions and learning difficulties. In recent years, the expanding movement for so-called “STEAM” approaches (science, technology, engineering, , and math) has increased in STEM curricula. The movement seeks to integrate the arts into science classes to transfer enthusiasm, support individual self-sufficiency, and encourage creative solutions. To meet all these demands, we developed an inquiry-based approach that actively engages students in hands- and minds-on activities on the topic of “decoding the DNA structure” in an outreach laboratory. Since teaching abstract molecular phenomena is a challenge in biology classes, we combine classical experimental tasks (DNA isolation, gel electrophoresis) with creative modeling. The experiments are linked by the modeling phase: immersed in the story of the discovery of the DNA structure, our participants independently construct a DNA model from a box filled with inexpensive craft supplies (e.g., glue, straws, pipe cleaners, beads). After initial pilot testing, the implementation of our approach clearly produced short- and mid-term learning effects among the students, providing a successful example of a STEAM-based approach in a laboratory setting.

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FIGURE 1

Schedule and learning activities of the laboratory module “Simply inGEN(E)ious! DNA as a carrier of genetic information.”

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2020 vol. 21 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i2.1923
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FIGURE 2

Example of a DNA-modeling box with various inexpensive craft supplies.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2020 vol. 21 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i2.1923
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FIGURE 3

Impressions of the modeling phase: A) Students working on their models. B) Examples of constructed DNA models.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2020 vol. 21 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i2.1923
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FIGURE 4

Quasi-experimental design of the study with regard to cognitive achievement.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2020 vol. 21 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i2.1923
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