FROM CELL TO INHERITANCE OF CHARACTERS: AN INTRODUCTION TO CLASSICAL GENETICS IN PRIMARY SCHOOL
University of Padova (ITALY)
About this paper:
Conference name: 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2018
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Genetics is the science that studies the inheritance mechanisms by which the biological characteristics (characters) are transmitted from one generation to the next, in all species. The study of this biology branch requires abstraction abilities in pupils and this is why one of the objectives of the present didactics experimentation has been to demonstrate that such a subject can be addressed in primary school, through active and laboratory didactics. In particular, the research objective was to observe and evaluate whether pupils in the last cycle of primary school (two classes of the fourth year) possess the skills needed to understand aspects of biology that are very complex even in the secondary school. The specific aim of the teaching activity was to let pupils know how the transmission of inheritance characters occurs and how the same characters can be defined as dominant or recessive according to their manifestation in the next generations. The reference matrix, used during the research activity, was that of the social constructivist one, aiming to attribute a prominent role to aspects that are usually considered marginal in acquiring knowledge. In fact, this theoretical construct gives value to the specificity of situations, which implies proper and different uses of the same knowledge. After a first part of the observation, fifteen hours per class were devoted to the same aspects of genetics. The classes involved in the project were both experimental groups, because the objective of the study was not to compare two different working methods, for example a traditional approach versus an innovative one, but rather to observe how such topics were learned by the two involved groups. In the first part of the project we devoted time to the cell, its components and DNA. It would not have been necessary to present these issues to the pupils, but this was essential to allow them to place where and how the transmission process took place. At methodological level, an observational-comparative methodology was privileged, enriched by moments of dialogue and comparison between classmates. Some space was devoted also to the scientific method, that the pupils applied during a DNA extraction experiment from fruit in the school science lab. At the conclusion of the experimentation, it can be stated that a path on classical genetics at primary school can be undertaken and carried out, if appropriately calibrated at the age of the pupils. In fact, the pupils of the two classes involved in the research have achieved excellent results in the intermediate and final tests, making it clear that cell, DNA and transmission of hereditary characters can be effectively introduced already in primary school.
Keywords: Active and laboratory teaching, cell, character transmission, DNA, genetics, primary school.