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Sickle Cell DNA Teacher's Guide
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Recommended Grade Levels: 9+

Tips for using the site with students      

1.     Before using this activity in class (or at home), go through the activity once to make sure it works correctly on your computer(s). If the activity does not load after clicking the 'start' button, you may be asked to download the free Flash Player from Please click Yes, as this allows you to view the Edheads Sickle Cell DNA activity. If you are using school computers, you might need to contact your tech support team to download the Flash Player.

2.     If you are using an iPad or other iDevice, our games will not play without downloading an app or browser. We recommend the Puffin Academy browser, that is a moderated site limited to educational content for teachers and families to use. The Puffin Academy browser is FREE and can be found here.

3.     Your computer(s) will need to have some sort of sound output. Either speakers or headphones will work well. The majority of this activity has voice audio. We highly recommend headphones or ear buds in a classroom setting. Students with hearing impairments can read the text at the bottom of the screen. If you are having difficulty hearing, check the audio settings on your computer.

4.     We strongly recommend that students use a real mouse, as the touch pads on laptop computers are more difficult to use for this activity and slow students down significantly.

5.     If the teacher would like students to fill out a worksheet while doing the activity, that can be printed here. The worksheet is NOT necessary to complete the activity but is a way for students to show they have done the activity or for teachers to track student progress.

6.     Students in the target grade-range will take approximately 25-30 minutes to complete the entire activity.

The worksheet for this activity is optional. Teachers may choose to have their students do the worksheet as a means of ascertaining that the students have completed the activity. However, the worksheet is NOT required to complete the activity.

Download the worksheet here.

For an assessment tool, teachers may want to have students put their names on the worksheets and turn them in. These should indicate if students completed the assigned activity. There is also a quiz that can be given:

A quick 10 question quiz can be found here.

There are also two career animations associated with this game. They are:

Genetic Counselor
Chemical/Biomolecular Engineer

After students use the site, additional in class discussion questions (which can also act as assessment tools) can be asked:

·        The activity mentioned 'personalized medicine.' Have you heard of this before? What do you think of this idea to use a person’s genetic code to determine or support medical treatment? Do you see a downside to this idea? Teachers might assign research on personalized medicine as a home work or in-class assignment. Answer: Basically, personalized medicine might hold the key to significantly improving medical treatment, particularly for diseases like cancer. However, the downside is that insurance companies, potential employers, and others might be able to use genetic information to discriminate against individuals or avoid hiring people who have a higher likelihood of contracting expensive diseases. This could be an example of scientific and medical advances outpacing the ethical, legal, and societal issues that might be created by that advance. For more information, check out this story and discussion page.

·        The Genetic Counselor career animation for Matt Pastore mentions that doctors, genetic counselors, and researchers have the ability to look at a person’s entire genome. Currently, this is a lot of information that doesn’t provide a lot of solutions or treatments for patients. Should doctors and genetic counselors continue to look at the genome of their patients?Answer: Yes, because this is how future breakthroughs and future treatments will come into existence. People will begin to notice patterns, additional research on genetic diseases and treatments will reveal success stories that could be duplicated, and literature will be published that sparks additional ideas for people in the field. While having the patient’s entire genome is not particularly useful now, ignoring it will impede future progress.

·        Teachers who we tested this activity with wanted to see additional examples of proteins folding. We weren’t able to provide that in the game, but here are some examples in other web sites:

· through an overview and illustrates folding)

· (vocabulary is difficult, but there are two GIF animations showing folding)

· (animations of protein folding)

· (animation of protein folding)

·        The genetic counselor in the game is careful to emphasize that information and treatment options need to be presented to parents or potential parents, but no one can make the decisions for the parents. In your opinion, is this the best way to go? Are there situations in which society should have legal guidelines in place that parents must follow? Where do you think the ethical lines are when you can know in advance what the likely scenario is going to be with inheritable genetic diseases and with genetic issues that occur during the early stages of pregnancy? Would you personally choose to have a child that had sickle cell anemia? Huntington’s chorea? Cystic fibrosis? Answers will vary.


Life Science - High School

HS. Structure, Function, and Information Processing


Critically read scientific literature and produce scientific writing and/or oral presentations that communicate how DNA sequences determine the structure and function of proteins, which carry out most of the work of the cell.

HS. Inheritance and Variation of Traits


Ask questions to obtain information about the role of DNA and chromosomes in coding the instructions for forming the characteristic traits of species passed from parents to offspring.


Construct an explanation using evidence for how cell differentiation is the result of activation or inactivation of specific genes and small differences in the immediate environment of the cells; relate these concepts to potential solutions in biomedical engineering and research.*


Apply concepts of statistics and probability to explain the variation and distribution of expressed traits in a population.


Evaluate the merits of competing ethical arguments for the research, development, and growth of industries based on the development of technologies that modify the genetic make-up of an organism.*

Ohio Revised Standards and Model Curriculum: High School

Students learn that traits are defined by instructions encoded in many discrete genes and that a gene may come in more than one form called alleles.

At the high school level, the explanation of genes is expanded to include the following concepts:

·        Life is specified by genomes. Each organism has a genome that contains all of the biological information needed to build and maintain a living example of that organism. The biological information contained in a genome is encoded in its deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and is divided into discrete units called genes.

·        Genes are segments of DNA molecules. The sequence of DNA bases in a chromosome determines the sequence of amino acids in a protein. Inserting, deleting or substituting segments of DNA molecules can alter genes.

·        An altered gene may be passed on to every cell that develops from it. The resulting features may help, harm or have little or no effect on the offspring’s success in its environments.

·        Gene mutations (when they occur in gametes) can be passed on to offspring.

·        Genes code for protein. The sequence of DNA bases in a chromosome determines the sequence of amino acids in a protein.

·        The many body cells in an individual can be very different from one another, even though they are all descended from a single cell and thus have essentially identical genetic instructions. Different genes are active.


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