Human Genome Project

Will the discoveries of the human genome project benefit us? In this activity students explore three excellent websites with information about the Human Genome project, There is a reading activity and student then research at least three new benefits which come from our understanding of the human genome project. The lessons ends with an open ended plenary which allows some differentiation through student choice.

Lesson Description

Guiding Question

Is the Human Genome Project going to help improve our lives in the 21st century? Why ?

Activity 1 The history of the Human Genome Project using a timeline

Follow the development of our biological understanding of the human genome using this great exhibit from the Smithsonian Museum. Make a note of the 5 most important points in the history.

Smithsonian Museum - Timeline of the Human Genome - a great introduction

Activity 2: Reading & note taking

Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Genomics and Its Impact on Science and Society: A Primer. Last updated: June 2008. Quick-download PDF format. For better quality, use the high-resolution pdf.

Read the document and note down, potential future benefits of the human genome project, and risks associated with it.

This edition covers basic science, the Human Genome Project, what we know so far, Next Steps in Genomic Research, medicine, benefits, and more.

Activity 3 - Role play a historical meeting between Watson Crick, Wilkins & Franklyn

Using the Talking heads activity worksheets students explore the nature of collaboration in the discovery of DNA.

  • Students take the role of one scientist.
  • They read information about the conflict during the discovery of the structure of DNA.
  • They look at the box of info about the nature of science the way scientists collaborate and share ideas.
  • Finally the four characters have a discussion about the historical event of 1953 when the double helix structure of DNA was discovered.
  • Answer the questions;
    • Did anyone do anything wrong?
    • Can the four brilliant biologists be friends?

This is still a real issue today. Watch this video   Human stories from the biologists of the Human Genome project which reveals the nature of the tension in the cooperation between scientists and commercial pressures for patents.

Extension activities - Introduction from the Wellcome Sanger institute in London.

Read this debate Your genome - excellent risks and benefits intro.

Choose a creative plenary activity from the list below ...

Teachers notes

This lesson is essentially a guided web quest. By the end of the lesson the students need to have a short list of benefits of the human genome project and a list of risks, or concerns. Of course they also need to understand something about the human genome project too!

Students can keep their notes in this Human genome project student worksheet

All materials on this website are for the exclusive use of teachers and students at subscribing schools for the period of their subscription. Any unauthorised copying or posting of materials on other websites is an infringement of our copyright and could result in your account being blocked and legal action being taken against you.