Life science classrooms often emphasize the exception to the rule when it comes to teaching genetics, focusing heavily on rare single-gene and Mendelian traits. By contrast, the vast majority of human traits and diseases are caused by more complicated interactions between genetic and environmental factors. Research indicates that students have a deterministic view of genetics, generalize Mendelian inheritance patterns to all traits, and have unrealistic expectations of genetic technologies. The challenge lies in how to help students analyze complex disease risk with a lack of curriculum materials. Providing open access to both content resources and an engaging storyline can be achieved using a “serious game” model. “Touching Triton” was developed as a serious game in which students are asked to analyze data from a medical record, family history, and genomic report in order to develop an overall lifetime risk estimate of six common, complex diseases. Evaluation of student performance shows significant learning gains in key content areas along with a high level of engagement.
We describe the implementation of " APPLE for the Teacher ," an alternative education outreach program that augments teacher efforts in presenting specific AP Biology laboratory exercises and at the same time involves the community in the educational process. The program is 5 years old and is staffed primarily by volunteers. We discuss the experiences of participants and lessons learned during the program's implementation and growth.