Using Internet tools to learn about genetics

I got side-tracked today to a computer guru site, one portion of which deals with general issues. In this case, a writer wanted to get an update on genetics before he started a new course at college. He asked a series of questions basically worded as vocabulary definitions

In geneticss, can it be said that:

Codons are composed of three bases
Alleles are composed of any (within reason) number of codons
Chromatids are formed by lots and lots of alleles
Chromosomes are formed by two chromatids (except during 2nd stage meiosis)
Genomes are formed by the full number of chromasomes found in a cell.

Unbelievably, I ignored the misspellings. I instead jumped to the comments to see how others reacted to his questions. You can check them out yourself and see that everyone got into nitpicking about details. Unfortunately, the person who asked the questions and anyone who read the entries were probably more confused when they finished than when they started. BTW, Wikipedia was no help.

I sent him to a couple of sites for learning basic genetics, including the University of Utah’s Genetic Science Learning Center and told him to not get hung up on vocabulary and definitions but to try to get the general ideas out of the “information” so easily given by others.

I checked out the GSLC to see that it still has some excellent stuff, but it’s geared to teachers and pre-college students and maybe a little too cute for a college student. I couldn’t find my Second Life log-on, so checked out YouTube to see what’s turned up there lately.

The search for genetics in the last month showed no entries, but I did find entries when I selected "all". The most recent was a talking head giving me a too-long dialog on the fact that genes do not dictate obesity; what matters is how you treat your genes. There was also a boring white-on- black lecture on the basics of genetics; music with it is not bad. Also, here’s also a 6-part interview with another talking head.

YUCK! No wonder today's and yesterday's generations know so little about genetics. Can't learning be fun? So many things available on the Internet are boring, too simple, or too "scientific". Does anyone know of genetics education that is basic, interesting, and fun?

Oh, I did find two I enjoyed. One is called genetics revision and comes with an interesting soundtrack; it's about 9 minutes. The other is a cute claymation in three parts; a bit simple, but fun.

Marie Godfrey, PhD

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