GEM Educational Resources

GEM is committed to increasing awareness and understanding of the genome and microbiome at a young age.  We have worked with local educators to develop lessons, aligned to current learning standards.  These lessons are available for download and use.  Please contact Sandra Small, PhD regarding questions about the lessons.

This is a program sponsored by Bio-Rad, which pairs local scientists with teachers to bring science into the classroom.  Bio-Rad provides all necessary supplies for a DNA extraction activity.

GEM K-12 Lesson Plans

Alex's Antibiotics

This is an interactive activity to demonstrate how antibiotics target bacterial infections and are ineffective against viral infections.  You may also use the demonstration to show how antibiotics harm the microbiome.  

Elementary Microbiome Discovery Unit

This 3-class period unit is aligned to the 2nd grade learning standards.  Students are introduced to the microbiome and the good microbes that live in, on and around us.  Students take samples of themselves and locations around the classroom and observe the microbes which grow from different environments.  The unit concludes with an art project.  Students observe photos of microbes and use art supplies to create their representation of a microbe.

Elementary School Genetics Unit

This unit is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards for 3rd grade, but is appropriate for grades 3-5.  Students are introduced to the genetic code and that it is passed from parent to offspring.  Students use simple manipulatives to “read” a code and use it to create fictitious organisms.

  • This lesson introduces reading a genetic code.  Students are introduced to reading a code through a teacher-led introductory lesson to build a hypothetical plant.  Students are then provided with their own manipulatives to create their own plant illustrations.
  • Create a Critter.  This is the reverse process of “Create a Plant.”  Students, in this lesson, design a critter to survive in a given biome and then write the code for those characteristics.  They can then swap codes with a partner and read the code to draw the critter. 

High School Microbiome Discovery Unit

This unit introduces the microbiome at the high school level.  Students research beneficial microbes that live in and on us.  They complete a lab activity in which samples are taken from students’ bodies and classrooms.  After incubation, the students research to identify some of the microbes that grew.

Microbial Bio-Art

Students use non-pathogenic yeast to draw on blank media in a petri dish.  The petri dishes are incubated to allow the yeast to grow and reveal the students’ drawings.  Link to Microbe Art, on Box.

Introduction to DNA

This lesson introduces students to DNA structure and function. 

Gel Electrophoresis Simulation

This is a hands-on lesson, using manipulatives to model gel electrophoresis.  Students are able to see and feel the effect that length of a chain or density of a gel has on DNA’s movement through an agarose gel.  Link to Gel Electrophoresis Simulation_Lesson Plan, on Box.