High School Genetics Curricula

Maine Barcode of Life

The Maine Barcode of Life curriculum uses DNA barcoding to identify and classify organisms based on their genetic code. Barcoding projects allow students to study the changing biodiversity within their local environment, identify native and invasive species, and investigate food fraud

IXplore provides Mobile Lab Kits and trains teachers and students how to analyze the genetic code using standard lab techniques—like DNA extraction, PCR, electrophoresis—use online bioinformatics websites, while also developing analytical skills. Examples of students publications can be found in the BOLDsystems.org database, which catalogs and tracks organisms around the globe. 

Barcoding kits are available online from Carolina Biologicals. Maine teachers can contact info@ixplorestem.org for diverse metazoan invertebrate primers or green crab primers.

DNA Barcoding Classroom Presentation

DNA Barcoding Student Worksheet

Decoding Our Pets

The Decoding Our Pets curriculum provides an opportunity for students to explore dog genes. Students investigate the DNA code of genes that control physical and behavioral traits of their dog (or a friend's) and discover whether the gene is dominant or recessive. 

IXplore provides Mobile Lab Kits and trains teachers and students how to analyze the genetic code in purebred and mixed-breed dogs. Participants gain analytical skills and expand their knowledge of complex genetics concepts. They learn how to study the genetic code using standard techniques like DNA purification, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), restriction enzyme digests, electrophoresis and bioinformatics. Contact info@ixplorestem.org for dog DNA primers.

Six students from the Greater Portland high schools entered their Canis familiaris research projects in the Maine State Science Fair—a scholarship was award for one project entitled “Why does my dog eat so much?”.

eDNA Testing

Students and teachers investigate the presence of aquatic species using environmental DNA (eDNA) found in local streams, rivers, and coastal zones. Organisms shed cells that release eDNA—this can be used as a proxy for the presence of an organism. 

IXplore provides Mobile Lab Kits for classrooms and trains teachers and students how to extract eDNA from aquatic environments and use standard lab techniques—like DNA extraction, PCR, electrophoresis, and bioinformatics. Gorham High School, Baxter Academy and Yarmouth High School students used this technology to study the presence of fish species like smelt, alewife, and brown trout. This project is supported by the University of New England Marine Science Center and a Maine EPSCOR Grant.

DNA Fingerprinting

Students study a human genetic marker, called D1S80, on chromosome 1 that can help to identify an individual and solve a faux mystery "Who Owns the AirPods?".

The D1S80 locus is not a gene—instead, it’s a region of the human genome that is highly variable between unrelated individuals. It contains a 16 base pair code that repeats between 14 and 41 times and known as a VNTR (variable number tandem repeats). VNTRs are used in forensic science to identify individuals. 

Students learn standard lab techniques to genotype their D1S80 loci: like extracting DNA, PCR of the D1S80 locus, and gel electrophoresis and develop analytical skills needed for future courses and careers.