Navigation Menu is only visible when JavaScript is enabled

 

Home | Contact ASHG | Join/Renew your Membership | Search Website    

 

 
 

Statement on the Importance of Participation of Scientists in K-12 Science Education

 
   
   
   

 

 



   

Connect with Other Activities

 

National DNA Day commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003 and the discovery of the double helix of DNA in 1953.



 

 

Do something special for DNA Day!

 

 

 

 

 

Question Resources:

 

   

The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) invites you to participate in the 9th Annual DNA Day Essay Contest! The contest is open to students in grades 9-12.
 

The contest aims to challenge students to examine, question, and reflect on important concepts in genetics. Essays are expected to contain substantive, well-reasoned arguments indicative of a depth of understanding of the concepts related to the essay question. Essays are read and evaluated by several independent judges through three rounds of scoring.

 

Prizes

 

1st Place Winner: $1,000 + $1,000 genetics materials grant for teacher
2nd Place Winner: $600 + $600 genetics materials grant for teacher
3rd Place Winner: $400 + $400 genetics materials grant for teacher
Honorable Mention: 10 prizes of $100 each.

 

2014 Question

 

Complex traits, such as blood pressure, height, cardiovascular disease, or autism, are the combined result of multiple genes and the environment.  For ONE complex human trait of your choosing, identify and explain the contributions of at least one genetic factor AND one environmental factor.  How does this interplay lead to a phenotype?  Keep in mind that the environment may include nutrition, psychological elements, and other non-genetic factors.  If the molecular or biological basis of the interaction between  the genetic and environmental factors is known, be sure to discuss it.  If not, discuss the gaps in our knowledge of how those factors influence your chosen trait.

 
 

 

Congratulations to the 2014 ASHG DNA Day Essay Contest Winners!

 

Share with fellow educators:  Bookmark and Share

 

Essay Contest Rules

 

  1. Essays will be accepted from high school students (grades 9-12) in the US and internationally. A teacher or administrator must submit the essay and authenticate that the submission is the original work of the student. Parents may submit the essays of home-schooled students only. Only one entry may be submitted for each student. 

     

  2. All essays must be written in English and are limited to 750 words, including in-text citations. Essay titles are optional and will be counted towards the word limit. Reference lists do not count toward the 750 word limit.
     

  3. Each teacher may only submit six student essays per class, for up to three classes. 
     

  4. Essays must be submitted electronically through the ASHG submission site no later than 5:00 pm EST on March 14, 2014. Essays mailed, faxed, or emailed to the Society will NOT be accepted. Once submitted, essays cannot be changed or revised.
     

  5. The text of student essays must be original prose unless quotations are explicitly noted.  Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Essays found to contain the uncited work of others will be disqualified, and the student’s teacher will be notified. This video from Carteret Community College Library gives a great overview of what constitutes plagiarism.

 

 

 

  1. Essays must include at least one reference.  References must be clearly documented with both in-text citations and in the references list (the reference list should be separately entered into the “References” section of the submission page). Students may use either APA or MLA style for citing references. There is no restriction on how many references students may use. Quality of references will be considered by judges when scoring.  General references such as Wikipedia are considered low-quality, whereas primary literature from research journals (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/) is considered high-quality.
     

  2. Only classroom teachers are eligible for the equipment grant. Teachers of first-place winners from 2011, 2012, and 2013 are not eligible for equipment grants in 2014.

 

Please note that text from essays may be used for research purposes to identify misconceptions, misunderstandings, and areas of student interest in genetics. Student text may be published on the ASHG Web site, newsletter or in other ASHG-supported publications.

 

Rubric
 

Points

Overall accuracy of the genetics content 0-6
Use of evidence in support of an argument/answer;

essay well-focused on the question/topic selected

0-6
Writing quality (clear thesis, composition, grammar, syntax, spelling) 0-5
References and citations (quality and appropriateness) 0-3
   

Total points possible:

20
Common Pitfalls

Summarized below are some of the most common issues judges flag in reading submitted essays. Note that judges, rather than student essays, are quoted below to obscure the identity of the essay in reference.  

  1. A focus on details to the detriment of demonstrating a clear understanding of the big picture. Judges are much more forgiving of errors in details than errors in fundamental concepts and larger ideas.   

Example: "Got the small facts right and the big ones wrong."

  1. Sweeping and grandiose overstatements of the current/future state and/or utility of biotechnology or biomedical science. 

Example: "It's concerning that this student believes gene therapy is a 'prevalent medical cure for deadly diseases.' "

  1. Inaccuracy in technical language.

Example: "The student confuses genes and alleles."

  1. Description of phenomena or advances with no explicit argument connecting them to the question.

Example: "Student does not link the discovery of the DNA double-helix structure to the development of microarrays, DNA fingerprinting, and probe technology. The student simply describes all four of these things."

  1. Misunderstanding the nature of a scientific advancement.

Example: "Cites Watson and Crick as discovering DNA rather than the structure of DNA."

  1. Lack of in-text citations in general, or lack of citations for information that is not considered common knowledge. In the latter case, students often make wild, unsupported claims that may be tempered if they must find references to support their information.

Example: "Many good references are listed but the information in the essay has no citations - not even information that is highly technical. Lack of citations is inappropriate, leaving the reader to surmise or guess at the source."

  1. Using out-of-date references.  Scientific understandings change very rapidly, and references that are more than five years old are likely to espouse outdated ideas.

Example: "One concern I have with this essay (reason for rating references low) is that a reference from 2001 is used. Genomic medicine changes so rapidly that many publications from 2-3 years ago are outdated, never mind 12 years ago!"

  1. Using too many quotes.  Although occasional use is warranted, too many quotes lead judges to think the author has no thoughts of their own.

Example: "Although this essay is well-written, most of the essay contains sentences directly quoted from the references rather than the student describing the facts in his/her own words. I could not determine if the student understood the content."


Previous Winners

 

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008: High School

2008: Middle School

2007

2006

Stay Informed!

 

Sign up for email notifications regarding:

Essay Question Announcements • Submission Site Announcements • Deadline Reminders

 

 

Questions: Contact dnaday@ashg.org

 

 

The American Society of Human Genetics, Incorporated

9650 Rockville Pike • Bethesda, Maryland 20814

society@ashg.org • 1-866-HUM-GENE • (301) 634-7300

Privacy Policy