The October 2016 Resource of the Month is “Genetics 101,” a set of YouTube videos produced by the personal genomics company 23andMe and presented by Khan Academy. The Academy’s free YouTube educational videos traditionally consist of audio “lectures” illustrated by animated scribbles on an electronic blackboard, but Genetics 101 has enhanced student appeal thanks to lively music, colorful graphics far beyond “blackboard doodles,” and a British lecturer whose subtly humorous tone will capture and hold students’ attention. You can access all five videos at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubq4eu_TDFc&list=PLF9969C74FAAD2BF9.
Each Genetics 101 video lasts 1 to 4 ½ minutes – and (although not encouraged) you can “binge-watch” all five of them in 14 minutes! However, a single video contains plenty of information for introducing a class topic, launching a discussion, or stimulating a review session.
The video topics are:
Part 1: What Are Genes? (4 min 26 sec) This first – and longest – video presents the basics of nuclear and mitochondrial genetic material, DNA structure, and the regulators that turn gene function on and off.
Part 2: What Are SNPs? (2 min) Variation at a single base pair is called a SNP, and SNPs account for many of the genetic differences between you and everyone else on the planet!
Part 3: Where Do Your Genes Come From? (4 min 20 sec) This video segues from homologous chromosomes, to how X and Y chromosomes determine sex, to recombination. Most interesting is the section on how to trace male ancestors by studying Y chromosomes, or female ancestors using mitochondrial DNA.
Part 4: What Are Phenotypes? (2 min) Your phenotype results from interaction between your genes and the environment – in traits like height, weight, even personality!
Part 5: Why No Y? (1 min 10 sec) This final video is brief, appealing, and discusses the merits of the sequencing provided by 23andMe.
By the way, did you know that most human cells contain 23 pairs of chromosomes, while chimpanzees have 24 pairs? Or that you share 98.5% of your DNA with a chimpanzee! Learn this, and a lot more, with these well-designed videos.
Genetics 101 videos present basic genetics material using graphics, music, and an upbeat style that can stimulate students’ interest. The scientific information is solid, and each video is both whimsical and informative enough to view repeatedly or even “share” with friends. Learners from upper elementary through high school biology will find these videos entertaining and informative. Available free on YouTube, offering reliable scientific information and creative design, these video resources will enrich your biology units on genetics.
About the Creators:
Genetics 101 is a product of 23and Me and Khan Academy. 23andMe was founded in 2006 to provide direct-to-consumer genome testing, as well as (non-medical) interpretation of the results and links between clients who share genetic characteristics. Salman Khan created Khan Academy in 2006, to offer “free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere” through YouTube-format lectures in many fields including math, computing, science & engineering, arts & humanities, and economics.