Seeing Double: An Exhibit on Cloning
I. Sub-Exhibit - Information About Cells and Genetics
II. Main Exhibit - Cloning
The purpose of this exhibit is to recognize, through displays, the important scientific breakthrough of cloning - an influential new insight of our time. Not only has this discovery advanced biology a step toward fully understanding our universe, but it also represents the years of hard work and determination through which scientists have struggled, finally accomplishing a goal once deemed impossible. In recognition of this advancement in biology through cloning and years of perseverance, this exhibit was created.
The goal of this exhibit is to teach visitors about cloning and its effect on our future through visuals, audio, and interactive programs. After visiting t
ibit, visitors should be able to realize why Dolly the sheep made headlines, and why cloning has been a popular issue in the past decade. This exhibit is also intended to provide visitors with background information leading up to cloning, on topics such as cells, genetics, and DNA.
As we enter the museum, our eye catches the colorful double helix of DNA that stands in the center of the room and touches the ceiling. Around the double helix is a low-walled circular exhibit with an opening facing where we are standing.
Surrounding the circular sub-exhibit is a hexagon-walled room - with five walls and one open side - that completes the exhibit. Both the circular exhibit and five-walled hexagonal exhibit open to the entrance of the exhibit so that the visitor, at first glance, will see all the different colors from the various visuals. Now we will take a closer look at each display.
Information About Cells and Genetics
The low-walled circular space is occupied by the Cells and Genetics exhibit. This exhibit provides visitors with background information that helps explain what cloning is.
Entering first to the right side of the double helix of DNA, visitors will notice that the first quadrant along the circular wall is for cells. In this quadrant, visitors will learn about how cells are the basic structural unit of life. Then, going into further detail about cells, they will learn about the different parts of a cell, shown through two diagrams, one of a plant cell and another of an animal cell. Visitors will be given brief information on each part of a cell, such as mitochondria and vacuole, with a strong emphasis on information about the nucleus.
INSIDE THE NUCLEUS
Moving to the next quadrant, visitors will get a further, in-depth understanding of the nucleus. The information provided here is about how the nucleus controls biological information. Visitors will learn about how the nucleus contains chromosomes, and that on each chromosome are genes that hold hereditary information. En route to the next quadrant about DNA, visitors will learn how each gene is composed of strands of DNA. This breakdown of the nucleus will also be presented visually through a picture of a cell with an enlarged picture of its chromosome.
In this quadrant, visitors will learn more about DNA to understand its place in heredity as the carrier of genetic information. This part of the exhibit contains information such as the full name of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), and its structure will provide visitors with background information necessary to understand cloning. Visitors will learn how the structure of DNA resembles a twisted ladder with rungs that are occupied by two nucleotides. Other information to be gained is that there are four nucleotides called adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, and that adenine can only be paired up with thymine and cytosine with guanine on each rung. Also, visitors will learn about how different sequences of nucleotides distinguish the DNA of one gene from DNA of another. With this information, visitors will soon be able to understand cloning.
In this last quadrant, visitors will learn why clones do not exist in nature. Through a diagram, visitors will see that due to the random combination of genes from its parents, an offspring, produced sexually, receives genes from both parents. Thus, an offspring's DNA differs from its parents' DNA, making each offspring unique. The only exceptions are offspring that were asexually reproduced.
A question that may arise after visitors visit this quadrant is whether or not identical twins are unique. A brief explanation to why they are unique will be given, stating that although the two stem from the same cell, there is a slight difference in their mitochondrial DNA, setting the two apart.
In addition to visuals, between the second and third quadrant are two interactive program stations. At these stations, visitors can test themselves on what they have just learned in fun games. There are three games at each station, with the difficulty level ranging from easy to hard.
The easiest game is a nucleotide-matching game, cleverly named "Match the Nucleotides." In this game, half a strand of DNA, with just one nucleotide of a set of nucleotides that compose a rung, will be shown. Around this half strand will be free-floating nucleotides that are the pieces to be used to complete in this puzzle. The goal is to complete the puzzle by attaching adenines to thymines, cytosines to guanines, and vice versa.
The second game is a multiple-choice game called "Discovery." In this game, the screen is divided into block sections that cover one large picture of an animal. Under each section, there is a piece of the large picture. In order to reveal each section and try to figure out, or discover, what animal picture is underneath, visitors must answer a question related to cells and genetics.
The third game, hardest in difficulty, is to make a plant or animal cell. Along the left side of the screen will be a list of parts - mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and so on - with its name and picture. Along the right side of the screen is the palette on which visitors would construct the cell. The object of this game is to construct a complete cell with correct parts.
These three games are designed to help commit to memory all the knowledge visitors will gain in the exhibit, so that this exhibit will have a lasting effect. With all of this background information now set, let us go to the main exhibit, the five-walled hexagon.
MAIN EXHIBIT: CLONING
The Cloning Exhibit towers over the low-walled, circular sub-exhibit Cells and Genetics. After visiting the sub-exhibit, visitors will have the background that enables them to fully understand cloning. In the sub-exhibit, visitors left off learning about how an offspring's genes were a combination of its parents' genes. With this information, visitors will realize that clones do not exist naturally in nature and may begin to ponder how clones can exist.
CLONING SEEN IN THE MEDIA
To attract visitors into the subject of cloning, this first section appeals to visitors through entertainment. As they walk by, visitors are drawn to this section because of its visual images and audio taken from the movie, Jurassic Park. They will see clips of the movie in which it is explained how dinosaurs were created and brought out of extinction through cloning. Using the media as a way of communicating to visitors, cloning can be presented in a more entertaining and inviting manner. This method of keeping visitors interested can increase the amount of information visitors absorb from the exhibit, improving the exhibit's effectiveness.
WHAT IS CLONING?
Before Jurassic Park creates any false information in visitors - Hollywood's tendency - this next section will explain what cloning really is. In this section, visitors will learn how a clone is genetically identical to the organism from which it originally came. In addition, visitors will learn about the history of cloning, through information such as the cloning of frogs in the 1950s, the cloning of mice and cows in the 1980s, and cloning of various tissues. Through a diagram, visitors will learn about the original method of cloning in which the nucleus of an embryo is removed and transplanted into a recently fertilized egg that has had its genetic contents removed. Another visual aid in this exhibit is the beginning of a timeline about the history of cloning, which will continue to the following sections and end in the last section of the exhibit.
Two interactive program stations are located in the third section. Each station has a screen and a control unit. The control unit, to be used by visitors, is a giant trackball with five buttons surrounding it. This control pad will be used for games such as "Memory Clone," "Clone Your Own," and "Questionnaire Pictionnaire."
"Memory Clone" is a game directed toward young visitors. The object of the game is to find each animal's clone, hidden under block sections. A picture of an animal will be displayed, and visitors will have a certain time limit in which to find what section has the clone of the animal displayed.
"Clone Your Own" is a game of medium difficulty. The object is to clone an animal by placing the different steps of cloning in order. At the start of the game, the steps will be jumbled around on the screen and visitors will have to rearrange the steps. After correctly rearranging the steps, the clone will appear, indicating that visitors have successfully created their own clone.
"Questionnaire Pictionnaire" is a "Pictionary"-like game in which, for each multiple-choice question visitors answer correctly, the computer will draw another part of the picture. The goal for visitors is to try to solve the puzzle in the shortest amount of time.
These games are all intended to make learning fun for visitors and to help visitors remember what they have learned by putting their knowledge to use.
DOLLY, THE FAMOUS SHEEP
Visitors may have a pre-set notion coming into the exhibit that Dolly was the first clone. This next section will teach visitors that Dolly was not the first clone, but that she was the first clone of an adult mammal. Alongside the picture of Dolly in this section will be information on how the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland, was able to create Dolly in 1996. It will teach visitors how the Roslin Institute researchers, led by Ian Wilmut, after 277 attempts achieved what no other researchers could do - clone an adult mammal. Visitors will learn about the researchers' new procedure of cloning, which involves synchronizing the cell cycle of the egg, and the mammary cell of the original animal; having the nucleus of the mammary cell fused into the egg that has had its original nucleus removed through microsurgery; applying a small electrical current to the clone egg; and implanting the newly formed embryo into the birth mother.
Dolly plays a very important part in showing the technological advancements of cloning in our time. She represents the development of new technology that has propelled science whereas scientists used to only be able to clone mice and frogs, and are now able to clone an animal from an adult animal.
FUTURE OF CLONING
With the advancements of cloning in mind, visitors can discover the numerous possibilities of cloning in the future. Although there are many debates over the ethics of cloning and its future, this exhibit section displays only the beneficial uses of cloning in the future. These uses of cloning include bringing animals back from extinction, such as the woolly mammoth; repopulating endangered species; creating organs for transplants through donor pigs with human DNA; producing medicine through the milk of cloned animals; and other endless possibilities. The pictures in this section represent the endless possibilities, and conclude the exhibit on cloning by leaving visitors to contemplate its future.
Cloning was a great scientific discovery that, in the future, will enable scientists to solve problems once thought to be irresolvable. Through cloning, scientists can help the environment by saving endangered and extinct animals. In health, cloning can create medicines to help those with diseases, or create organs necessary for some people to survive. These possibilities supplement the notability of this discovery, making the breakthrough of cloning truly a significant advance in our time.
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More About This Resource...
Less than 1 period
Supplement a study of genetics with an activity drawn from this winning student essay.
- Send students to this online article, or print copies of the essay for them to read.
- Hold a classroom debate about the ethics of cloning and the benefits or risks this scientific discovery brings.
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