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Genetics: Cracking the Code

Delve into the fascinating world of genetics, as you explore the science, the ethics, and the applications of this ever-evolving field.

About this Workshop

Campus: Sarah Lawrence College | Rising Grades: 8,9

Genetic engineering and synthetic biology are rapidly changing our collective political, ethical, and biological future. In this introduction to the world of genetics, we will debate the ethics of genetic manipulation while considering the practice’s unintended consequences and moral repercussions. After reviewing the basics of how DNA forms the building blocks of our genetic code, we’ll explore applications of biomedical research, including mRNA vaccines, gene therapies, and the genome-editing technology CRISPR. Finally, we will extract live DNA, run a PCR amplification, and learn how to alter the proteins in a string of cells.

Required Materials: - Laptop/tablet


DNA Extraction
Use biotechnology equipment to isolate and analyze DNA samples and prepare agarose gel trays for electrophoresis.

Gene Isolation
Practice manipulating organisms in a laboratory setting. Investigate themes in genetic research such as gene isolation using an animal model.

Bioengineering Ethics
Consider moral and ethical dilemmas that genetic researchers confront, such as eradicating disease, eliminating food shortages, biological warfare, and genetically engineered “perfect” humans.

Emerging Technologies
Innovations in genetic engineering are far outpacing our ability to regulate and manage their implications. Debate the morality of emergent technologies like gene therapy and stem cell research.