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Genetic Engineering Activities & Games

Instructor: Nora Jarvis

Nora has a Master's degree in teaching, and has taught a variety of elementary grades.

Genetic engineering is the deliberate altering of something's genetic structure. As your students learn about genetic engineering, it'll be important to challenge and engage them. This lesson contains activities you may find useful.

What Is Genetic Engineering?

Using technology, an organism's DNA is modified to result in a change in the organism, which is called genetic engineering. Sometimes, this change might be considered useful, like vegetables that are resistant to viruses. Other times, genetic engineering might result in a change that's unusual, but not particularly useful, like a pet fish that glows.

As your students learn about genetic engineering, it'll be important to focus on how it connects to the real world. Your students should have opportunities to analyze and evaluate the processes and impacts of genetic engineering. The following activities will help your students learn more about genetic engineering.

Examine Genetic Engineering

Engage your students by asking how they inherited their individual traits. Help your students understand how DNA is passed from parents to child, and how we used to not have any control over how that DNA was passed. Explain to your students that genetic engineers have done lots of experiments to try and alter the DNA of different things.

Assign one of the following genetic engineering experiments to each of your students:

  • Fluorescent cats
  • Enviropig
  • Pollution-fighting plants
  • Venomous cabbage
  • Fast-growing salmon
  • Web-spinning goats
  • Flavor saver tomatos
  • Banana vaccines
  • Less-flatulent cows
  • Genetically modified trees
  • Medicinal eggs

Once they have their experiment, they should research how and why the experiment was developed, and what the results were. They should prepare a short presentation on their experiment. They might write a skit, write and perform an original song, or create a picture book.

As an extension, you might have your students develop their own theoretical genetic engineering experiment. They should develop an idea, and explain how they think their genetic engineering would be beneficial to society or the environment.

Take a Stand

After your students have researched genetic engineering, ask your students to take a stand for or against it. They should then develop supporting reasons for their stand. Have your students create advertisements that try to convince readers of their point of view. Encourage your students to include a catchy phrase, supporting evidence, and illustrations or other artwork. Display their work around the school, if possible, to give your students a chance to convince others students of their stance.

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