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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #327810

Title: iTAG Barley: A grade 7-12 curriculum to explore inheritance of traits and genes using Oregon Wolfe Barley

item MCGHEE, LAURIE - Colfax-Mingo High School
item HAYES, NICK - Kennedy High School
item SCHUCK, RONALD - Ames Community High School
item MAFFIN, LANCE - Bondurant-Farrar High School
item HALL, GARRET - South East Polk High School
item HUBBAND, TAYLOR - Ankeny High School
item WHIGHAM, EHREN - Iowa Western Community College
item Fuerst, Gregory
item Wise, Roger

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/26/2016
Publication Date: 4/26/2016
Citation: McGhee, L., Hayes, N., Schuck, R., Maffin, L., Hall, G., Hubband, T., Whigham, E., Fuerst, G.S., Wise, R.P. 2016. iTAG Barley: A grade 7-12 curriculum to explore inheritance of traits and genes using Oregon Wolfe Barley. iTunes. Available: &

Interpretive Summary: iTAG Barley “Inheritance of Traits and Genes”, is a 7-12 STEM outreach program to understand the relationship between genotype and phenotype, and empower better-informed citizen scientists. Using the diverse Oregon Wolfe Barley population as the model, teacher iTAG training enables their students to learn phenotyping, DNA extraction, PCR, restriction enzyme digests, and electrophoresis. iTAG Barley has been implemented in >40 high school classrooms from 2009-2015, impacting >1,000 students, half of which were underrepresented from urban to rural communities. This year, we held our iTAG Barley summer teachers workshop July 28th-31st, 2015 in Ames, Iowa. Ten high- and middle school teachers from Tuskegee, Alabama and around the state of Iowa spent an intensive week of iTAG training. The end result was that eight new schools implemented iTAG curriculum in 2015-2016, in addition to the six previously trained teachers that have been using it each year. Collectively, these teachers will use iTAG Barley in 53 classes during the 2015-16 school year, impacting >1,400 additional high school students. This model scientist-teacher engagement integrates basic genetics with agriculture and human health using the easy-to-grow plant model, barley. These themes are the foundation for more complex genomic technologies, such as those used to solve human and agricultural disease, thus, providing young researchers with the tools to advance science in the 21st century.

Technical Abstract: One of the basic concepts in biology is that an organism’s physical traits are controlled by its DNA. In other words, one’s genotype for a particular trait controls the phenotype that is expressed. Yet, this connection between DNA and physical characteristic is not always made. The ‘Inheritance of Traits and Genes in Barley’ (iTAG Barley) Project is a module of laboratory and classroom activities designed to help you make this connection. The laboratory portion begins with you planting and growing barley plants so that phenotypic variation can be observed first hand. One trait in particular, the difference between “awned” and “hooded” plants, is the focus of the basic Learning Module. The barley plants exhibit these two phenotypes of the dominant “hooded” trait and the recessive “awned” trait. The Learning Module also includes protocols for DNA Extraction, Polymerase Chain Reaction, and Gel Electrophoresis. You get the opportunity to experience these basic biotechnology techniques, and the final results of the electrophoresis allows you to see the DNA polymorphisms among plants with different phenotypes. In addition, several extension activities are provided in the Extension Module. These protocols can be used in addition to the Learning Module, or separately in whatever way that helps advance science in the 21st classroom.