October 13, 2011

Genetics with an Itty Bitty Science Addict

So here's the deal.  Hannah Jane is 8, and when she was 7 she had a smashingly successful science fair project in which she explored DNA replication and details pertaining to genetics.  I let her watch the video from the Google Science Fair yesterday and her desire to rock the science world was reignited.  So I asked what kind of science she wanted to delve into and she went back to her first love, genetics.

What do I know about genetics?  Next to nothing.  But that's slightly more than she knows, so we're giving it a go.  Joe knows a ton, but he's got a day job so she's mostly stuck with me.  Last year when she studied mitosis she wanted to move on to meiosis because a web site she was reading said it was the logical next step in her studies, but I wouldn't let her because I was worried that she'd ask me about how sexual reproduction actually gets going and I wasn't ready to have that discussion with a 7 year old.  But here we are, back to genetics again and she wants to learn something new.  I mean, mitosis is so last year.  So I bit the bullet and drew from my shallow knowledge pool on punnet squares and Mendelian genetics.

During breakfast I perched atop the counter and drew punnet squares on the white board and gave a brief description.  Immediately Haven was identifying the homozygous and heterozygous pairs on the board and Hannah Jane said, "Mom, did you teach him this already?"  He was fast picking up on that vocabulary, but now he's applied the terms to EVERYTHING on earth.  So close, but still a miss.

Hunter is mildly interested in understanding why he's the only kid in the family with zero freckles, so he loitered around the breakfast bar slightly longer than usual to listen and pretend not to care.  Later I overheard him joining in on the close but still inaccurate use of the homo and hetero prefixes with Haven.  "These toys are homozygous because they are both Power Rangers but they are heterozygous because this one is blue and that one is green."  Umm...okay.

Hannah Jane moved on to a lists of traits that are linked to a single gene (Mendelian traits) and loved the weird dominant traits like webbed fingers being dominant over separated and 6 fingers being dominant over 5.  She made a bunch of squares on the board for things like freckles and straight hair, created fictitious couples, and phenotyped their offspring.  

She's ready to roll on this topic and I'm still not positive I'm using the terms correctly.  A few I know I'm not using correctly, but I'm sure that the surrounding vocabulary involved in using them properly would be out of her league.  Okay, I'm not sure.  I'm sure it would be out of my league and it's simply less embarrassing to say it's for my 8 year old and not myself.  An approximate understanding of the concepts is really more than any 8 year old needs to have anyway, right?

She likes to give little lectures on video with me pretending to be her student and asking questions, and then she watches them a million times.  It's so funny.  But I must have accidentally used my mom voice because she thought I was doing that teacher thing where you ask questions to lead them to the correct answer and she decided she had gotten something wrong.  She immediately wanted the camera off because she would die if an imperfection were ever captured on film.  But I kept telling her she hadn't gotten anything wrong and to keep going.  She wrestled me to the ground with the camera and was yelling, "You gave me the dominant freckle gene and it's all your fault!!!" as we laughed and rolled around, all with the camera on.  She watched that video a thousand times yesterday and then made me vow not to post it  because she told me that I was pretending to be dumb on the video and she didn't want anyone to think she was a disrespectful kid.

So, I won't share that one.  I'll go with the videos of her in her PJ's, solving random freckle related crosses. 


And just one more... What next?  I really don't know.  She is collecting information from her extended family to fill out a pedigree chart for the family and determine the mode of inhertance for a few different traits.  She thinks she's going to use that for the science fair, but we've got a ton of timebefore that rolls around again, so I suspect she'll move on to new areas of study before the fair ever arrives.  For now, we'll just keep rolling along at her pace and see what she thinks sounds fun.  At this very moment she is offering a lecture to Haven to see if she can make him the world's most brilliant 4 year old!  I have no doubt that she can :)

5 comments:

  1. I saw these videos on YouTube today :)

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  2. I just filmed this this morning, so you must have seen the one of her wrestling me and freaking out before she made me take it down. :) That's our little secret!

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  3. I saw the ones you did this morning... saw them this afternoon :)

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  4. Of course. Sorry. In my mind, you typed that you saw them yesterday. I posted the one and then took it down :)

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  5. It's okay :) Do you have a minute for facebook messages?

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