Genetic Diversity

The Project that I choose to examine in WISE was called “Space Colony – Genetic Diversity and Survival”.  The project is presented as a case study. The students were presented with a “mission briefing” where they were given two options for the survival of “colonists” on a planet based on their genetic makeup.  They would then have to come up with a hypothesis for why the route they choose would be the best options. The project then took the students through the molecular level of biodiversity that included cell division, DNA, mutations, single celled and multicellular organisms, etc. After learning about cells and how human cloning works, the project then zoomed out and gave students the opportunity to think about the big picture. Ultimately, this should help them understand the original problem that was presented at the beginning of the project with regards to which planet would be best for the colonists.


When experimenting with the project,  I was able to add in animations that I found online to illustrate cell division. This provides students with a visual of how the different components of the cells reproduce in order to create genetic diversity. I also added more areas where student were able to explain their thinking, rather than multiple choice. Kim & Hannefin (2011) discuss that WISE is about creating experiences that challenge that students to a particular task, scaffolding content in a way to expand student problem solving. The projects that I explored in WISE demonstrate a high degree of interaction with various models. I like how they incorporate some interpretation of data, blending the mathematics and sciences together. Williams et al (2004) discusses how teacher are able to gain a deeper understanding of the curriculum goals in order to support students’ learning and make their thinking visible.


Kim, M. C., & Hannafin, M. J. (2011). Scaffolding problem solving in technology-enhanced learning environments (TELEs): Bridging research and theory with practice. Computer & Education, 56(2), 403-417.


Williams, M. Linn, M.C. Ammon, P. & Gearhart, M. (2004). Learning to teach inquiry science in a technology-based environment: A case study. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13(2), 189-206.

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