This tutorial is part of the Dolan DNA Learning Center of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory site, an extensive website with many other resources. This specific library is located in Resources. There are six different tutorials: Polymerase Chain Reaction, Southern Blotting, Cycle Sequencing, DNA Detective, Three Polymorphisms, and Ac/Ds Transposition. Polymerase Chain Reaction, Southern Blotting and Cycle Sequencing are step by step tutorials on how the techniques are done. DNA Detective includes a segment on how a DNA fingerprint is made and gives examples of how DNA fingerprinting has been used in a murder/rape case, human paternity case and a horse paternity case. Three Polymorphisms shows electrophoresis results along with drawings of the results for three different polymorphisms. Ac/Ds Transposition illustrats the jumping gene in corn.
Type of Material:
Illustrative material best used as a supplement to lecture or as background material for a laboratory experiment.
Shockwave Player 8.5.1
Identify Major Learning Goals:
To teach students about polymerase chain reactions, southern blotting, cycle sequencing, Ac/Ds Transposition and other studies of DNA through step-by-step animated tutorials.
Target Student Population:
High School and College students
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Basic knowledge of DNA structure.
Animations are clear and easy to understand. The vocabulary is appropriate for a beginning student.
The student can repeat the intermediate steps as many times as they wish before going on to the next step.
Each segment of the library is independent of the others so that a student can cover any of the tutorials in any order.
All of the tutorials can be downloaded to and run from a local computer. Files for the PC, MAC and Power MAC are provided.
DNA Detective has three interesting and well described case studies
Some key steps are animated, showing how they really occur
Some steps are not well illustrated, for instance, hybridization is shown by vibrating the container, which is what physically happens, but does not show the student what is going on with the probe, which is the key conceptual issue
Actual photos of the equipment would help
"Three Polymorphism's" has no explanation of it's purpose - this one is really illustrative material for some of the K12 educational kits provided by this site and does not fit in well with the other animations
"Ac/Ds" is not a technique like the other but is rather an illustration of a classic experiment, more like the flash animations in the "DNA from the Beginning" portion of this site. Despite the focus on jumping genes, how this happens is never explained, nor the is the role of the Ac gene explained.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
While primarily a slide show there are some useful animated sequences that show events much better than static images could
"DNA Detective" has interesting case studies that students would find engaging and also require some active effort from the student in comparing different fingerprints.
Other than "DNA Detective", the animations require no involvement from the student other than clicking on the "Next" button
No specific learning objectives are provided.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Control buttons are clearly labeled and easy to use
Interface elements are not consistent between the different animations
Some of the shockwave transitions (the fade transition) run a little slow on some computers
The Quit button on the menu page of the Polymerase Chain Reaction does not work.
It would help to have a Return to the Resource Page button on the DNA Detective page to make it easier to return to the list of tutorials.
The Instructions for the DNA Detective tutorial would be better at the top of the list of main menu page.
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