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It's a Gene Thing (Grade 8 program)

Live show:

Why do humans and animals look and act the way they do? It's all about DNA! In this zipTrip, learn how Purdue scientists are studying the building blocks of life.

Program includes:

This program supports the revised Indiana Academic Standards for science and the National Science Education Standards.

Indiana Standard 3: Life Science (8.3.1, 8.3.3, 8.3.4, 8.3.5, 8.3.7, 8.3.8, 8.3.10)


  • A, Science as Inquiry
  • C, Life Science
  • F, Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
  • G, History and Nature of Science


Care to try a free sample? Here's a preview of what you'll get when you sign up for this Purdue zipTrip:

E-mail Questions

Double helix.

Purdue zipTrips™ really get students thinking! They want to know more about science careers, animals, and scientific inquiry.

During the LIVE show, students can e-mail questions to the scientists (ziptrips@purdue.edu), and scientists answer some questions on the air. Then, after the show, we send out a list of FAQs for students and teachers to discuss.

Here is a sample of some e-mail questions received from student audience members during It's a Gene Thing!:



Student: How long have you studied this?
Wildlife Geneticist Matt Hale: Fish migration? I’ve been looking at the trout since 2009, and hope to continue to do so for a long time, as I think migration is fascinating!

Student: When does a fish normally migrate?
Wildlife Geneticist Matt Hale: That depends a lot on the species. The steelhead trout tend to migrate as two-year-olds in May to June. But other species, such as pink salmon, migrate after only spending two months in fresh water.

Student: How many chromosomes do fish have?
Wildlife Geneticist Matt Hale: That’s a good question! Chromosome number is very variable in fishes. Some species have many hundreds of really small chromosomes (like sturgeon, for example). The trout seem to have 29 chromosomes, but even that is variable between different species and it has even been shown to be variable between different populations of the same species! Very different from most mammals!



Student: How do you track salamanders?
Wildlife Geneticist Rod Williams: Some species can be tracked using a fluorescent powder and blacklight. These are generally the smaller species that do not move long distances. Larger species are surgically implanted with radio transmitters that allow researchers to track their movement with radio receivers. These transmitters can last up to two to three years.

Student: Why is salamander DNA such a good subject for DNA observation?
Wildlife Geneticist Andrew DeWoody: Salamanders have huge genomes, roughly ten times larger than the human genome.