- Peer Review: DNA Double Helix (Watson and Crick)
DNA Double Helix (Watson and Crick)
- Jan 19, 2007 by Biology
This module on DNA Double Helix (Watson and Crick) is from the Supersite "DNA From the Beginning." DNA Double Helix (Watson and Crick) is an interactive tutorial and animation describing how Watson and Crick used the clues provided by Lavene, Tatum, Chargaff, and Franklin and Wilkins to determine the structure of the DNA molecule. The thought process used to fit each clue into the solution is detailed in a step-by-step description with animations. This tutorial begins with a brief outline of the questions that lead to the concept, followed by a statement of the concept. A more in-depth examination of the concept is achieved through the animation menu, which accesses an animated tutorial of the basic experimental design(s) that lead to the understanding of the principle. Users may access the "Problem" menu, which presents several multiple choice questions requiring interpretation of the experimental results presented in the tutorial. The questions are instantly graded, providing immediate feedback. Additional menus are: the "Picture Gallery," with images of historical photographs of researchers, lab, and laboratory equipment used in the experiments described; the "Audio/Video" menu, that presents QuickTime interviews with researchers who discuss the concept in more detail; and a "Biography" menu, providing further information about the key scientists. A "Links" menu provides further bibliographic information, as well as links to additional relevant sites.
- Type of Material:
Tutorial and Animation / Interactive Lesson
- Recommended Uses:
This tutorial can be used for several purposes. It would be a good out of class activity to either supplement or enrich regular class materials. It could also be part of an online learning course. This material can also be used in lecture or for independent study to learn about molecular genetics.
- Technical Requirements:
Flash Player and QuickTime are needed to see animations and view video clips.
- Identify Major Learning Goals:
Describe how Watson and Crick assembled all of the data determined by various researchers to develop the double helix model of DNA.
- Target Student Population:
Advanced high school as well as undergraduate and graduate students
- Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The site is designed to be accessible to a wide range of users. Some background in chemistry, genetics, and molecular biology may help users better understand the information. Use of web browser with Flash and QuickTime will be required.
- Clearly laid out, well organized, and very well presented.
- Very complete and accurate information with appropriate vocabulary.
- Content follows a logical progression, both conceptually and chronologically.
- Content follows logical progression both conceptually and temporally.
- Emphasizes scientific approach to understanding through clear explanations of how the evidence was used to construct the model of DNAhow we know, not just what we know.
- Rich source of information on personalities, history, and current thought on these concepts.
- Animations accurately represent experimental designs presented.
- Exceptional combination of animation and video interviews.
- The breadth of coverage is impressive and complete.
- Perhaps the titles of the units could be modified to more closely delineate the topic(s) covered.
- The site needs more video interviews from other scientists. Most or all of the interviews are with James Watson, and rightly so as one of the co-discoverers of DNA structure. It might help to have additional video clips from other scientists, possibly from those who know the history of the experiments. An additional video clip of James Watson describing his advice for junior scientists would be great. Interviews are valuable tools for learning and understanding the methods of science.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
- Promotes understanding of basic concepts.
- Entire site built around a conceptual approach.
- Tutorial titles state concepts and serve as the learning objective for that tutorial.
- Tutorial animations and problems lend themselves to the creation of additional questions such as "where do we go from here?"
- Interactive quizzes provide immediate reasons for correct and incorrect answers.
- Video interviews with famous scientists provide motivation for student learning.
- The animations represent an excellent. collection of scientific reasoning and logic, and focus on "how we know" not just "what we know."
- The animations frequently begin with a famous scientist posing a problem to be solved. This approach may make more of a connection between the results of a classical experiment and the mind behind the reasoning. The constant flow of scientific reasoning from unit to unit provides a clear and impressive thread of logic showing how scientists realized that DNA is the genetic material.
- Problem provided each tutorial reinforces understanding.
- Biography, audio/video clips, and photo gallery provide a historical and personal background usually missing from educational materials. Help students understand the human side of science.
- The tutorials could be improved by adding sound and expanding upon the interactivity of some of the Flash Player animations.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
- Clear and accurate instructions.
- Well designed, easy to navigate, intuitive and fast.
- Widespread and effective use of animation.
- Definitions linked directly to the term. Audio glossary gives detailed explanation of term as well as pronunciation.
- Excellent use of Flash Player and QuickTime video clips.
- Organization of tutorial leads the user through the concept.
- The QuickTime video clips of James Watson are excellent, but it's hard to hear the audio sometimes.
- Other Issues and Comments:
One of the best tutorials I have seen. It addresses a specific, identified concept thoroughly and experimentally. Interactive portions of the site are excellent. Wide range of materials related to the central concept provided. The animations represent an excellent collection of scientific reasoning and logic, and focus on "how we know" not just "what we know." The animations frequently begin with a famous scientist posing a problem to be solved. This approach may make more of a connection between the results of a classical experiment and the mind behind the reasoning. The constant flow of scientific reasoning from unit to unit provides a clear and impressive thread of logic showing how scientists realized that DNA is the genetic material. It might help to add more video interviews from other scientists, especially where there is only one person featured in the video clips. Perhaps modern scientists could substitute for those who cannot be interviewed. A few female and minority scientists would be a plus for this part of the site. These interviews are valuable tools for learning and understanding the methods of science. The authors might consider adding sound and expand upon the interactivity of some of the Flash Player animations.
- Creative Commons: