K-12 Education »
High School Workshop
High School Workshop
Organized by the
Information and Education Committee
As part of ASHG’s genetics education outreach,
every year’s Annual Meeting includes a full-day workshop for
local high school students and their teachers. Participants
interact with genetics researchers and learn about the field of
human genetics. Students enjoy inquiry-oriented genetics
lessons presented by distinguished speakers on a variety of topics including epigenetics, newborn screening, and DNA forensics.
This year’s workshop is on Tuesday, October 18 at
the Vancouver Convention Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia
from 8:15 am to 2:40 pm.
The workshop is free and continental
breakfast and lunch will be provided.
However, we cannot provide transportation.
As space is limited to 150 students and
their teachers, we prefer each teacher
bring nine students. Find descriptions of breakout session
"I enjoyed all the hands-on activities and how they were integrated into the talks. Students were engaged, challenged & interested through all the problem-solving exercises."
- 2015 Teacher
"I pretty much [enjoyed] all the workshop [breakouts] because they were engaging and I [got] to learn some new things."
- 2015 Student
The final 2015 workshop
schedule can be found
Registration for the 2016 workshop will be open in July.
Breakout Session Descriptions
Complex Traits (Basic)
In school, we focus our attention on how a
single gene can influence one trait, like tongue
rolling, dimples, and widow’s peak. However, the
combined effects of many different genes cause most
variation among individuals. Examples include height,
weight, skin color, hair color, cholesterol levels, and
intelligence. Have you ever wondered how tall parents
can have a short child? In this session, students will
use pom-poms to investigate the effects of multiple
genes on a single trait - in this case, height.
|Members of the same species
are more genetically alike than different, yet only
identical twins share exactly the same DNA sequence.
Find out how forensic detectives tease out slight
differences in DNA sequence to identify individuals.
Students will discover the power and pitfalls of DNA
identification analysis as they work to solve a “who
dunnit” mystery, constructing and comparing DNA profiles
to piece together crucial evidence that may – or may not
– “make their case”.
Genetics and Sports: What can DNA tell us about athletic performance?
for a great athlete on the high school track team or in
the NFL? Is there really “a speed gene"? Would you like
to know if your DNA held any clues about which sports
you might be best at? How do environmental factors fit
into the puzzle? How is genetic information being used
to screen athletes for medical conditions and injury
risk? In this session, we will explore the emerging
scientific and ethical questions behind using genetic
analysis to probe a person's athletic potential as well
as health issues related to concussions, sickle cell
trait, and a heart condition that can be particularly
dangerous for athletes.
Did grandfather Joe have Alzheimer’s
disease? If so, does that mean that I’m at risk of
getting the disease too? In this session, students will
explore the power of family history information. They
will construct pedigrees, follow the inheritance of
several different types of traits, and try to make
predictions based on their evidence.
Epigenetics: The Interaction of Genes and Environment
amount of licking that a rat mother provides her pups
really affect their response to stress as adults?
Surprisingly, yes, and the explanation isn’t in their
genes (at least not how you might think!). Rat nurturing
behavior isn’t the only example of this fascinating
phenomenon. In this session, students will learn how
environmental factors can affect gene expression,
traits, and inheritance.
|Have you ever wondered how
much physicians and geneticists can learn about us from
the moment we are born? Newborns are routinely screened
for a variety of dangerous and often preventable
disorders that may be present at birth. Students will
explore some of those traits, including the foods eaten
by persons with certain metabolic disorders, and learn
about the underlying genetics.
|Basic - These sessions are
appropriate for students at any level of genetics
Advanced - These sessions assume
more prior genetics knowledge by students.
Plenary Session Description
Spirit of Difference
Speaker Rick Guidotti is a former
high-fashion photographer who founded the
not-for-profit organization Positive Exposure in
1998. Positive Exposure utilizes photography and
video to transform public perceptions of people
living with genetics, physical, and behavioral
differences - from albinism to autism.
If you have any questions about the workshop, please
email Brittany Wolf at