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  Human genome project
Updated 16 April 2003, 09.39
Model of DNA

Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Scientific Development

Scientists say they've finished writing what they call the 'book of life'.

The 50-year project decodes all the tiny bits that the human body is made up of - called the human genome or DNA.

Students discuss the pros and cons of this research.

Learning aims

  • What the human genome project is

  • The possible consequences of the project

  • Discover that the issues of nature versus nurture are still debated in the scientific community
1) Icebreaker

Read the story Scientists complete DNA 'Book of Life'.

Ask students what they think determines their:

  • likes
  • dislikes
  • personality characteristics

Were they were born with these traits or did they pick them up through life? Discuss their ideas.

What is the human genome project?
This 50-year project has set out to decode all the tiny bits that the human body is made up of - called the human genome or DNA.

The study of chromosome 20 - has already sped up the search for genes involved in diabetes, leukaemia and childhood eczema.

2) Main activity
Read the story Sleepwalking might be caused by genes.

Break students into groups and get them to discuss one of the following questions:

  • Why do you think nature versus nurture is debated? Do you think it is possible to answer this question definitively?

  • Who might be most interested in resolving the nature versus nurture debate? What effect might a resolution have on our society?

  • If you were raising identical twins, what might you do to make sure that they were unique individuals?

  • Do you think it is possible to change your personality? Why or why not? If so, how would you go about making changes?

  • If you are not a twin, would you rather be an identical or a fraternal twin? Why?

Once the groups have had time to discuss they should prepare a brief presentation for the class that explains their views.

3) Extension activity
Students write a questionnaire designed to find out aspects of someone's personality.

Can the students design an experiment to test the nature/nurture debate using twins?

For more information on twins studies click the link on the right.

4) Plenary
Recap what the nature/nuture debate is and why it is an important issue.

Take a floor vote to see if the consensus is for the majority of human behaviour to be based in nature or nuture.

Teachers' Background

  • Researchers have studied identical and fraternal twins to try to determine whether genetics (nature) or environment (nurture) has a greater effect on personality development. Identical twins, or monozygotic twins, come from the same fertilized egg. In the earliest stages of development, the egg splits into two zygotes, creating two individuals with the same genetic code. Fraternal twins, or dizygotic twins, develop from two eggs, and each has its own genetic makeup.

  • When the Human Genome Project was formally launched, there were some who thought it could take 20 years or more to complete. But robotics and supercomputers speeded up the process hugely.

  • One of the projects is to identify genes that predispose to type II diabetes. This disease affects about 1 in 20 people over 45 and its incidence appears to be increasing.

  • Knowing virtually the entire sequence of the roughly three billion letters of genetic code in our DNA gives scientists the chance to explore everything that is genetically determined about our lives.

For all links and resources click at top right.

Watch Lizo's reportWatch Lizo's report

More InfoBORDER=0
Sci/TechScientists complete DNA 'Book of Life'
Sci/TechSleepwalking might be caused by genes
Find OutNewsround: Guide to cloning?
VoteVote on Cloning


BBC Links
BBC Horizon: Gene stories


Web Links
Association for Science Education
Happy families: a twin study of humour
Note: You will leave CBBC. We are not responsible for other websites.



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