STEM Education

STEMFollowing on the success of our pilot implementations of a “genetics and genealogy” approach to enhancing interest in STEM among middle-school age learners (10-13), we partnered with PBS affiliate WPSU to create webisodes illustrating our approach. Entitled Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings, our series illustrates getting young learners to study themselves in detail can yield long-lasting results in STEM interest and learning. At our website, learners, parents, and teachers can view videos and download the curriculum.

We are now partnering with Howard Hughes Medical Institute (BioInteractive Division) to extend our work on encouraging interest in STEM to high school and undergraduate audiences. Postdoctoral scholar Tina Lasisi is leading this effort, and will be developing video-based content in human genetics in order to facilitate learners’ understanding of genotype-phenotype relationships, and the evolution and understanding of human physical diversity. She will be advised by Nina Jablonski and by Heather Zimmerman of the Penn State College of Education. Tess Wilson manages all of the Jablonski Lab’s STEM projects, which involve collaborators from many institutions and disciplines.

A scientist assists a young camper with a science experiment.
FYR Seedlings camp instructor, Dr. Brandon Ogbunu, assists a camper with an experiment.

Related Links:

Finding Your Roots curriculum and WPSU web series The Seedlings

Relevant Publications:

Zimmerman, H. T., Weible, J. L., Wright, E. A., Vanderhoof, C., & Jablonski, N. G. (2022). Using youths’ personal DNA data in science camps: Fostering genetics learning and socio-emotional attitudes toward science with design-based research. Science Education, 106(4), 767-796. doi:10.1002/sce.21709

Wright, E. A., Wagner, J. K., Shriver, M. D., Fernandez, J. R., & Jablonski, N. G. (2019). Practical and ethical considerations of using personal DNA tests with middle-school-aged learners. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 104(2), 197-202. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.01.001

Jablonski, N. G., Wright, E. A., Pai, A., & Ogbunu, C. B. (2018). Understanding your roots: STEM diversity and an evidence-based curriculum. Paper presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting, Austin, TX.

Wright, E. A. (2018). Preliminary outcomes and future prospects of “genetics and genealogy” for learners. Paper presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2018 Annual Meeting, Austin, TX.

Zimmerman, H. T., Weible, J. L., Wright, E. A., Maggiore, C., & Jablonski, N. G. (2018). Youths learning with a genetics and genealogy approach: Scientific and personal engagement in summer camp. Paper presented at the 2018 National Association for Research in Science Teaching Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA.