What makes us uniquely human? In the three-part series The Human Spark, originally broadcast on PBS in January 2010, Alan Alda takes this question personally, visiting with dozens of scientists on three continents and participating directly in many experiments – including the detailed examination of his own brain. Along the way, he learns why some brains are bigger than others (does it really mean you’re smarter after all?), explores the relationship between social and technological change, and even looks at the ways in which monkeys and apes are biologically, mentally and socially similar to humans.

Through this collection of lesson plans and video resources, students join Alda in searching for the answers to many of our most age-old questions. Take your class on a journey way, way back in time all the way through to the present as you explore human evolution, prehistory, child development, the human brain and more. It is sure to get your students excited about pondering the question of what makes up their own DNA. (Grades: 5-12)

Here are 20 additional resources to explore the ancestry behind DNA.

1)     Homemade Fossils | Dinosaur Train | PreK-1

2)     Divergent Evolution | Kratts Creatures | 1-4

3)     Questions about Hearing | WGBH | 3-5

4)     The Brain | D4K | 4-6

5)     A Matter of Size | WNET | 5-12

6)     The Human Spark | WNET | 5-12

7)     Taste, Touch, and Vision | WGBH | 6-8

8)     All in the Family | evolution | 6-12

9)     Investigating Neanderthals | NOVA scienceNOW | 6-12

10)  Extracting Mummy DNA | NOVA | 6-12

11)  Bones of Turkana | National Geographic | 6-13+

12)  Scientist Unearth Massive Fossil | PBS NewsHour | 6-13+

13)  Evolution of the Eye | evolution | 9-12

14)  Judgment Day | NOVA | 9-12

15)  Fossils in the Gobi | evolution | 9-12

16)  The Developing Brain | WNET | 9-12

17)  Cracking Your Genetic Code | NOVA | 9-12

18)  A Day in the Life of a Neanderthal | WNET | 9-12

19)  What Teeth Can Tell | WNET | 9-12

Find more thousands more resources at PBS LearningMedia.

Resources to Tell the Story of DNA 8 March,2017Almetria Vaba


Almetria Vaba

Almetria Vaba  is the associate director for education partnerships and distribution at KQED.  In her role, she leads collaborative efforts with education agencies, public media stations and other non profit organizations.

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