New genetics, genealogy curriculum included in STEM education showcase

May 07, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new middle school genetics and genealogy curriculum developed in part by Penn State will be featured during an online showcase that highlights innovation and STEM education.

The 2018 STEM for All Video Showcase, funded by the National Science Foundation, will be held online at from May 14 to 21. Researchers from Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts helped develop the curriculum “The Finding Your Roots Genetics & Genealogy Curriculum.” WPSU Penn State produced the video that will be featured in the showcase.

The showcase, which will feature between 100 and 200 three-minute video presentations, is open to educators and the general public, and aims to improve STEM and computer science education. Participants will be able to view the video presentations, post to facilitated discussion boards, and vote for their favorite videos.

Elizabeth Wright, curriculum director and postdoctoral fellow from the College of the Liberal Arts, will lead the discussion on “The Finding Your Roots Genetics & Genealogy Curriculum.”

Nina Jablonski, Penn State’s Evan Pugh Professor of Anthropology; Brandon Ogbunu, assistant professor of biology at Brown University; Lindsay Fulton, director of research at the New England Historic Genealogical Society; and Michael Turner, who worked on the project after graduating from Morehouse College, also will participate in the online discussion.

The genealogy curriculum showcased in the WPSU video was inspired by the PBS series “Finding Your Roots” and looks at innovative approaches to teaching science, history and research skills to middle school students. The WPSU entry is part of a larger web series — “Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings” — which WPSU Penn State also produced.

The “Finding Your Roots” curriculum was conceived by Jablonski; Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who also hosts the PBS show; and a group of historians, artists, biologists, geneticists, anthropologists, genealogists and educators. It was piloted during a two-week camp for children ages 10 to 13 at Penn State, the University of South Carolina, and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  

The curriculum was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts, Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, and the National Science Foundation’s National Evolutionary Synthesis Center.

View the STEM for All Video Showcase website to participate.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 10, 2018