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Question Sheet: Baby Swaps, Crime Scenes, and DNA Testing

SCIENCE

Before reading:

  1. This article is titled "Baby Swaps, Crime Scenes, and DNA Testing." What do you think it will be about?
  2. What do you think happens in a veterinary genetics lab?
  3. What is DNA? Why is it important?
  4. What are some ways that scientists can help endangered species?

During reading:

  1. If you had the job of a geneticist, what kinds of things would you do?
  2. If DNA is "the instruction manual of life," what do we learn by reading it?
  3. What kinds of animals do VGL scientists concentrate on? Why?
  4. What is the problem when two endangered animals accidentally exchange their babies? If we ignored this, what could be the consequences?
  5. Why would anyone want to know an animal's lineage?

After reading:

  1. What are some of the differences and similarities between fingerprints found at the scene of a crime and DNA evidence?
  2. How could you tell that you are biologically related to your so-called parents?
  3. Imagine that you are a professor of forensics, and wanted to teach your students the basics of testing animal DNA. Make a list of steps students need to know to begin studying DNA.

LANGUAGE ARTS

  1. After reading this article about animals and DNA, can you come up with alternative titles for it? What information seems most important to be in the title? Why?
  2. Why do scientists call certain stretches of DNA "markers"?
  3. VGL scientists are only one group from a larger community of conservationists. Name five other jobs you could have that help conserve Earth's plants and animals.

MATHEMATICS

If you had three bear mothers, each with one cub, and the babies got mixed up, how many different mother-cub combinations could there be? What if each mother had two cubs? Three cubs?

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