Written by Florcy Romero, pgEd’s Curriculum and Professional Development Associate
As a part of our new initiative to expand awareness of genetics in various communities, pgEd teamed up with the incredible youth at Youth Enrichment Services (YES) to offer a workshop and get the conversation started.
Located on Mass Ave in Boston, this organization focuses on providing youth from the Boston area with affordable, outdoor-based leadership programs and activities. YES serves more than 1,600 teens annually and those who attend the academy are more likely to graduate high school. On October 25th, Fabienne Mondesir, Director of Community Engagement and former BPS teacher led an introduction to genetics workshop. It was a thought-provoking discussion infused with many complex questions about ethics – and we used the movie GATTACA as a conversation starter. GATTACA is a science fiction film depicting a futuristic society where the genetic engineering of offspring is socially acceptable and “necessary” for the advancement of society. pgEd and students both posed questions such as “would you have your child’s genes edited to prevent life-threatening diseases, even if their genetic information had the potential to be misused?” and “where do you draw the line?” that led to very engaging conversations. Many of the youth interrogated the usage of genetic engineering for aesthetics, life threatening diseases, and examined the benefits and concerns regarding genetic technologies during our four-corners activity, which can be found in our lesson “Introduction to personal genetics.”
It was refreshing to see young people eager to learn more about the ways in which genetics is applicable in their own lives, either now or in the future. We witnessed youth questioning and debating the field of genetics in a way that shows us that raising awareness is not only necessary but required, especially for those who will be affected by the technological advances, and who will make decisions about them as voters, patients and leaders.
We look forward to continuing these conversations with YES every week for the remainder of November!