Genomics: Up to the Minute

by Carolina Staff
Mesenchymal stem cells labeled with fluorescent molecules

Current and relevant activities for your life science students

Genomics is an area of life science that touches many facets of life. Some genomic research has high visibility, like identifying and sequencing new viruses such as the one causing COVID-19. Still, some research is less visible in the media, yet just as impactful, like employing genetic variations to make crops drought tolerant. New research findings are regularly reported in journals but only on rare instances does a finding make the news. How can you and your students keep pace with new research findings? Where can you locate high-quality teaching materials to facilitate incorporating timely topics? Carolina is here to help with its partner, HudsonAlpha.

HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit research institute working to improve the human condition around the globe by leveraging the synergy between discovery, education, medicine, and economic development in the field of genomic sciences. Located on a 152-acre biotech campus within the nation’s second largest research park, HudsonAlpha is a global leader in genetics and genomics research and fosters more than 45 diverse biotech companies on its campus. HudsonAlpha is also a nationally recognized leader in science education and has developed a variety of educator classroom resources that are available at little or no cost.

Educator Resource Hub

The Educator Resource Hub is a curated library of activities written by HudsonAlpha educators and classroom teachers. Topics are grouped by Cells and Cell Processes; Heredity and Variation; Interactions, Energy and Dynamics; Molecules of Life; Technology and Tools; and Unity and Diversity. Activities are correlated to Alabama science standards, and there are accompanying alignment documents for the NGSS, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas to facilitate lesson planning. The types of activities include modeling activities, instructional videos, digital activities, laboratory investigations, outdoor investigations, and simulations. There’s something for everyone! Additionally, within the Educator Resource Hub there is a collection of supporting materials not to be missed.

Biotechnology Classroom Supports

Classroom supports, including a poster on content connections, an experimental design diagram, a video series on the book of life, and classroom activities can be found on the Classroom Supports page. A couple of favorite instructional support materials are listed below with a brief explanation.

Biotech Basics is a series of easy-to-read introductory articles to understand biotech concepts, tools, and technologies. These articles are great preparation for biotech labs. They provide in context definitions of terms and concepts and explain the “magic” behind the machines. This is a must-read series for students beginning biotechnology studies.

The annual “Biotechnology Discoveries and Applications” makes staying up to date with the results of current research, changes in technology, and breakthrough applications a breeze. Everything is summarized in one place, the reporting is factual and reliable, and there are no worries about internet searches and finding reliable sources.

Shareable Science

Shareable Science is a timely and relevant blog that constantly results in an “I didn’t know that. How cool!” reaction. The blog is posted once or twice a month and is archived. You can even subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss an article. You’ll receive an email reminder when a new blog post is up. To get on the list, just fill out the form at the bottom of the Shareable Science page.

Here are some examples from the blog:

COVID-19 Teaching Resources

As you can see from the resources above, HudsonAlpha responded quickly with scientific information about all aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the blog, Dr. Neil Lamb presented a video series beginning in March 2020, Beyond the Blog: Shareable Science with Dr. Neil Lamb, focusing on the science behind COVID-19, including virus structure and genetics, research on how the virus spreads, how the virus is diagnosed, how it is treated, and how its spread can be slowed with vaccinations. HudsonAlpha has prepared four exercises in Viral Sequence Similarity Analysis Using COVID-19 to help students understand the basics of this coronavirus. These resources are immensely useful to anyone struggling with understanding the COVID-19 pandemic.

HudsonAlpha Educational Kits

HudsonAlpha has partnered with Carolina to produce and distribute high quality, interactive, hands-on kits and activities that provide students with a clearer understanding of genetics, genomics, and biotechnology-related careers.The kits come with materials and teacher and student guides. How-to-use workshops are even available at many teacher conferences.An engaging kit for middle school students is Gaudy Goldfish, where students take on the role of goldfish breeders to investigate genetic phenotypes, analyze and interpret offspring data to determine inheritance patterns, and prepare a goldfish breeding plan.Students are challenged to ask their own questions and define problems, while analyzing and interpreting data to design and explain their solutions. They compete to find out which team has developed the most successful goldfish business. 


HudsonAlpha and Carolina know that biotechnology and genomic science are shaping the future of health care, medicine, and agriscience. For this reason,educating students in ways they find interesting and compelling is paramount. Find your favorite resources and visit often as new activities, blogs, and videos are added regularly.

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