Advances in biotechnology, particularly DNA sequencing, has led to a surge in genetic data and large online databases. Interpreting these data, using the interdisciplinary field of bioinformatics, is in high demand because genome sequencing is becoming increasingly cheaper and faster. In science classrooms, there are many opportunities to incorporate bioinformatics, but this can be a daunting task for teachers who do not know where to begin.
This hands-on activity starts by introducing participants to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website. Presenters will provide a brief overview of the database to guide participants on: 1) how to use the search functions of the database, 2) interpret information on sequence pages, and 3) how to download DNA, RNA or amino acid sequences. Following the guided tour, small groups will be provided discussion questions to discover potential areas within their curricula that could be reinforced or enhanced with a brief bioinformatics activity. Participants will be provided worksheets to help document relevant sequence information (accession numbers) for the biological phenomenon or topic that inspired the activity. The participants will leave with a basic understanding of sequence capture from NCBI and a rudimentary activity to expose students to sequence data analysis.
An understanding of the genetic code and basic internet browsing skills are all that are needed to explore bioinformatics and use them in the classroom.
Zack Bateson (National Agricultural Genotyping Center: Fargo, ND), Jane Hunt (Nourish the Future - Education Projects, LLC: Columbus, OH)