Held in conjunction with ASHG's Annual Meeting, the High School Workshop is a free workshop for local high school students and their teachers. Students participate in inquiry-based, hands-on genetics lessons presented by distinguished speakers on a variety of topics including complex traits, genetics and sports, and DNA forensics. This outreach activity is organized by ASHG's Information and Education Committee.

2018 Workshop Information

Location: San Diego, California
Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2018

This year's High School Workshop will consist of speakers and instructors going to local San Diego high schools to facilitate hands-on activities with students and teachers.



Year City Date
2018 San Diego, CA Tuesday, October 18
 *There was no High School Workshop in 2017*
2016 Vancouver, BC Tuesday, October 18
2015 Baltimore, MD Tuesday, October 6
2014 San Diego, CA Tuesday, October 18
2013 Boston, MA Tuesday, October 22
2012 San Francisco, CA Tuesday, November 6
2011 Montreal, Canada Tuesday, October 11
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Breakout Sessions

Complex Traits

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. In this session, students will use pom-poms to investigate the effects of multiple genes on a single trait - in this case, height.

DNA Forensics

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 “whodunnit” mystery, constructing and comparing DNA profiles to piece together crucial evidence that may – or may not – “make their case”.

Family History

Did Grandfather Joe have Alzheimer’s disease? If so, does that mean that you're 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.

Genetics and Sports: What can DNA tell us about athletic performance?

What makes 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, students 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.

Luck of the Draw: A Genetics Ethics Game

Just because one can do something does not mean that it should be done. That is the dilemma that we face in the new era of genetics and genetic engineering. Is choosing traits for one’s children a desired outcome of progress in molecular genetics? In a recent national survey about 10% of people seeking genetic counseling would prefer a child with greater intelligence, height, or athletic ability. In this session, students will justify choosing specific traits for their child, then acquire points used to buy additional traits. The more points a student has, the greater their choices, giving students the chance to experience the fact that not everyone has equal means.

General Sessions

Career Panel

This general session will give workshop attendees valuable insight to both the traditional and nontraditional trajectories for careers in genetics. Our panel of experts will discuss their current positions and the steps they took to get to where they are now. The names of our panelists are included below. Time will be given at the end of the presentation to allow for questions from the audience.

The 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.

Questions about the workshop? Email ASHG Educational Programs