Program details

Learning program overview

The focus of the Sickle Cell program is to allow students the opportunity to apply an understanding of genetics and DNA manipulation to a real-life scenario. Sickle cell disease is a life-threatening inherited condition affecting millions of people worldwide. Early diagnosis is key in helping sufferers manage their condition and extend their life expectancy.

Students will be introduced to a scenario involving a family with a sick child. Through genetic testing of the child and her family, students will be able to determine a diagnosis for baby Marie. Micro-pipetting and gel electrophoresis will be utilized in order to test DNA from each family member for the sickle cell allele. Students will be guided through the structure of DNA as it relates to sickle cell disease, inheritance of the sickle cell allele and how meiosis influences the inheritance of traits from parents. Students will also be prompted to consider and discuss ethical issues surrounding DNA-based technologies.

Success criteria

  • Undertaking laboratory work in a small team to diagnose a genetic disease
  • Appling an understanding of genetics to a real-life scenario
  • Analysis of the outcome genetic testing
  • Utilisation of lab technology

Pathway examples

  • Informers: scientists, detectives, pathologists, teachers, ethicists, lab manager
  • Carers: doctors, genetic counsellors, nurses
  • Designers: biotechnologists, researchers, bioengineers