This film provides an excellent summary of how James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the molecular structure of DNA. It packs a tremendous amount of information into a short time frame. Hosted by science journalist Olivia Judson, the video contains interviews with Watson and Crick, as well as Sean Carroll (University of Wisconsin-Madison/HHMI), Karolin Luger (Colorado State/HHMI), Robert Olby (Historian/Biographer), and others. Quite a bit of seldom-seen archival footage is used.
Viewers will follow Watson and Crick’s progress toward their famous discovery. They will also learn about some of the mistakes the researchers made along the way. Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin do not go unmentioned, though a description of the controversy surrounding Franklin’s role is absent. Nevertheless, her work’s contribution to the discovery is highlighted. Also included is Linus Pauling’s attempt to beat Watson and Crick to the outline of the DNA structure.
This short film can be viewed online at the HHMI website or can be ordered for free on DVD. It is short enough to keep the attention of both high school and college students. I believe that even middle school students would enjoy it. I highly recommend this video for classroom use and plan to use it in my own.
REMY DOU taught high school life science for eight years before becoming an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow (2011–2013). Currently, he works as a Graduate Assistant at Florida International University where he contributes to STEM education research.