COVID took over the world starting in 2020. Everyone quickly “knew” about the novel coronavirus, but how much do they actually know about the virus behind COVID-19? This classroom activity gives students real-world practice in evaluating actual genetic sequences from SARS-CoV-2 and working with genome alignments to identify mutations and cluster different emergence patterns. This activity works through alignments, mutations/variants, protein folding, structure and function, and medical/immunology implications of the different variants. There are seven parts to this activity, and each one can be incorporated alone into a lesson or collectively used for a lab, case study, or other supplemental activity to strengthen learning objectives in genetics, biology, immunology, and public health. This learning activity is scalable to different levels and has successfully been incorporated into K–12 education as well as college and graduate education.
Alpha, Delta, Omicron—Oh My! A SARS-CoV-2 Genome Alignment Activity to Understand Mutations and COVID Variants
J. JORDAN STEEL (719-333-6026) in the Department of Biology, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, USA.
MARISA J. ROMERO in the Department of Biology, United States Air Force Academy, and also affiliated with ASCEND College Prep, Colorado Springs, CO, USA.
KRISTI MCELMURRY in the Department of Biology, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, USA.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest
Public Release: This manuscript has been approved for public release: PA number: USAFA-DF-2022-531
Disclaimers: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policy of the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense, or the Department of the Air Force.
J. Jordan Steel, Marisa J. Romero, Kristi McElmurry; Alpha, Delta, Omicron—Oh My! A SARS-CoV-2 Genome Alignment Activity to Understand Mutations and COVID Variants. The American Biology Teacher 1 May 2023; 85 (5): 285–288. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2023.85.5.285
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