Students Study Identity Through Personal DNA Sequencing

Nov 1, 2017 | All School, Have Fun, Impact, Innovation, Inquiry, Upper School News

Throughout the first half of the semester, grade 9 students have been exploring the idea of individual identity.Β They have considered this topic through a scientific lens in Biology, and through a historical and philosophical lens in Humanities.

In the spirit of true interdisciplinary work, the grade 9 Science and Humanities teaching teams designed a Project Based Learning endeavor based around the question: “How is identity constructed, and how is it changeable?” and are asking themselves the question, “How might we use different lenses of identity to make choices about the future?”

As part of the biological branch of the project, students will be examining DNA sequencing data. Several students have opted to submit their own DNA sample to be sequenced through a partnership with biotechnology company, 23andMe. Students will then use their own data to complete their projects.

To kick off the DNA portion of the project, students were invited to play a game show of sorts. Moderated by Brandi Hoyos, Director of Multicultural Innovation and Diverse Networks, the guessing game required students to guess specific biological traits of a select few teachers, on-stage. One fun fact revealed is that Dr. Kathryn Spahr shares ancestry with President Barack Obama.

Brandi adds, “It is my hope that this project will bridge individual identity to global citizenship, encouraging students to be widely aware of not only their historical culture, but others as well.Through learning and discovering personal heritage through DNA, all learners are able to make connections and define multiculturalism.”