Making genomics teachable

A Garvan-Weizmann collaboration is upskilling science teachers to educate students about genomics.

Close up of DNA methylation (tiny chemical tag shown as a glowing particle being added to one of the DNA bases)

01 April 2019

In education, a new collaborative research project has been established, bringing together extensive educational research expertise at Weizmann with Garvan’s molecular visualisation and genomics education expertise.

Concepts about genomics, and processes that occur at the molecular level are challenging to teach and also to learn. Videos and animations can help, however a gap exists between their potential for science teaching and their actual use in the classroom.

Garvan science communicator, Bronwyn Terrill and molecular animator, Dr Kate Patterson, have teamed up with education researchers Professor Ron Blonder and Dr Bat-Shahar Dorfman of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel to find out how the gap could be bridged.

In a four-day workshop, the team collaborated with a group of year 12 science teachers on ways to incorporate scientific videos and animation into their lesson plans. 

“Our aim is to investigate and deliver the most meaningful usage of 3D science animations for teachers in the classroom,” said Professor Blonder.

“Garvan is a leader in genomic research and has invested in genetics education and research to improve health professionals’ and community literacy. Teachers are key to that program because they are ideally placed to prepare the next generation of healthcare consumers and citizens for genomics and precision medicine,” said Ms Terrill.

“This is a new content area and we have specific expertise in genetics education and molecular animation, so it was fantastic to be able to learn from each other,” said Dr Patterson.  

The project was funded by a seed grant from the Garvan-Weizmann Partnership, a collaborative international endeavour that harnesses the synergistic strengths of two world-class research institutes.