Lora Wellman

Incorporating MiniOne Systems PCR equipment to study genetic disorders

2016 Stem Scholar
Owensboro, KY Owensboro Middle School

Lora’s Big Idea: Using television crime shows as inspiration, Lora developed a project around the Next Generation Science Standards focusing on DNA structure and heredity. She worked with developers and staff at MiniOne Systems to incorporate their newest PCR equipment as part of case studies based around heredity, traits, and specific genetic disorders. This allowed her students to gain experience using modern molecular biology techniques (i.e. restriction enzymes and gel electrophoresis). Students used information in the case studies along with data collected through restriction analysis and electrophoresis to diagnose simulated people’s genetic disorders. Students were able to tie phenotypes with genotypes to explain how DNA controls traits.

Objectives included:

  • Understanding basic structure of DNA
  • Using basic molecular biology skills such as DNA separation and analysis
    • Micropipeter
    • Restriction enzymes
    • Gel electrophoresis
  • Explaining genetic disorders
  • Analyzing data to diagnose genetic disorders

Students produced a formal lab report of DNA separation and analysis and Lora produced a new lesson about human genetics, traits and disease using the equipment and DNA supplied by the Mini One company.  This lesson is now being shared with other teachers.

Interesting Facts:  Lora helped develop her school system’s science digital curriculum. Read more.

In her own words:"My favorite science lesson....[allows] students [to] to apply what they learned to a real world situation making them feel that what they were doing was important and relevant."