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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:
November 7, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License

A Multimedia Approach for Genetics Education
Shirley Chan, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA
Bronwyn Terrill, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA

Demonstration: Your Colleagues - 1

The WWW is fast becoming the first choice for news, information and entertainment. The ability to incorporate different file formats, to update information and the accessibility of the Internet has also made it a powerful tool for educational purposes. The Dolan DNA Learning Center (DNALC) is using the WWW as a dissemination platform to provide information and education resources on genetics and molecular biology.

The DNALC is the world's first science center devoted entirely to public genetics education and literacy. We run student laboratories, teacher-training programs and have a public exhibition called The Genes We Share. Currently, three of the web sites developed by the DNALC -- Your Genes, Your Health (YGYH), DNA from the Beginning (DNAFTB) and Genetic Origins -- are integrated into the exhibit space.

YGYH debuted online in April 2001. It is a multimedia guide on genetic disorders for which causative genes have been identified. YGYH makes extensive use of animations to visualize the unseen world of genes and molecules. Video clips of interviews with researchers and patients provide insiders' views specifically for the newly diagnosed. YGYH features 15 inherited genetic disorders.

DNAFTB debuted online in November 1998 and is the companion site to YGYH. DNAFTB is an animated primer organized around key concepts on genetics and molecular biology. The 41 concepts cover topics from Mendelian genetics to DNA structure and function to current techniques. Central to each concept is an animation in which researchers describe how they did key experiments. Video clips and a gallery of photographs give the science a personal touch. The work of more than 80 scientists, including 25 Nobel Laureates, is featured in DNAFTB.

Genetic Origins is a web site that packages one of the most popular high school laboratories done at the DNALC. Students can send samples of their own DNA to be sequenced by the DNALC with results posted on our web site for further analyses. By providing online instructions, we have expanded the program world-wide. The automated sequencing machine is used as one of the exhibit pieces.

In development are other web sites as well as other media that can be used to enhance virtual as well as physical visitors' experiences. These include Inside Cancer -- a web site that will explore the molecular world of cancer cells; DNA Interactive -- a web site built in conjunction with a 5-part TV series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA.