GeniConnect

Engaging middle school afterschool students in a dragon genetics game and partnering them with biotechnology mentors.

Importance

Helping students better understand how issues they encounter in their daily lives—for example, the current prevalence of genetic diseases such as diabetes—are being addressed through science is at the core of making science relevant and helping students envision themselves as future scientists.

Classical genetics focuses on the correlation between genes and specific traits, skipping over the means or mechanisms by which genes exert their influence over traits. We are developing the next generation of our popular Geniverse digital came — called Geniventure — to reveal the key role that proteins play in the manifestation of genetic traits.

Our larger goal is to develop and research a coherent series of student experiences involving game-based learning, industry mentoring, and hands-on laboratory work in biotechnology and genetics. Students play Geniventure in an afterschool setting, individually and with other students or industry mentors, and use and make direct content connections to the game in their hands-on laboratory experiences. Mentors come from multiple high-profile biotechnology companies within walking distance of the East End House afterschool center, including Biogen Idec, Monsanto, Genzyme, Genentech, and Amgen. Students also participate in hands-on laboratory work at the Biogen Idec Community Lab, the longest-running community corporate science lab in the nation.

We are also developing a framework and toolkit to guide industries and afterschool programs in forging partnerships. The mentoring builds upon East End House’s long-established experience creating relationships between their afterschool program and a variety of STEM industry professionals. We’re expanding upon this work to create a full framework and toolkit to aid other afterschool programs in establishing and sustaining such successful relationships.


Research

We’re researching the methods and processes to aid industry groups and afterschool programs in forming meaningful and productive partnerships and studying student learning:

  • Student content understanding in genetics and biotechnology
  • Student awareness of careers and real-world connections
  • Student motivation and self-efficacy regarding relevant concepts and skills

Publications


Activities

View, launch, and assign activities developed by this project at the STEM Resource Finder.

Project Funder
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-1513086. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Principal Investigator
Frieda Reichsman, Chad Dorsey, Michael J. Delia, Aaron Rogat
Project Partners
Years Active
2015-2018