FAQ

About the Web Series

I’ve been working on my family genealogy and I’m stuck. Can you help?

No, and yes. Unfortunately we aren’t highly trained or experienced genealogists, so I don’t think we’d be very helpful! But, we’ve spent a lot of time working with highly trained and experienced genealogists and we’ve cultivated a set of very useful websites where our young scientists have had success.

Check these out:

I’m interested in getting a DNA test. Can you help?

No, and yes. We don’t do the DNA tests, we purchased them from a commercial provider and used their web platform. There are several currently available; ancestry.com and 23andme.com are two of the most popular providers. Our mention here should not be interpreted as an endorsement of either. Do your research to determine which test and Terms of Service meet your needs.

I work with a group in my town and we’ve been looking for a curriculum like this. Can you help?

YES! We can! The elements of the curriculum that appear in the web series will appear alongside the current webisode. Because the web series camp was shorter than the full camp, the additional curriculum components will be available separately. The curriculum in its entirety will be available at the end of the web series. However, if you just can’t wait, contact Biz (eaw24@psu.edu) and she’ll make arrangements for you to have access to the curriculum.

What if I’m adopted?

That’s great (my mom is adopted)! Your DNA is your DNA. The DNA test will tell you about the ancestry of your birth parents without identifying them. When you do genealogical research, you will research your adoptive parents. These are your parents. They pass on traditions and memories that you will carry with you forever. Your genealogical research will investigate where and when your forever parents and their parents and their parents were born, and other important stories as they choose to share with you. Exciting, right?!? That said, keep in mind that you can research about the regions your biologicals parents were from. You can learn about customs and traditions, spirituality and faith, feasts and celebrations, lullabies and folk tales. These are a part of your history too.

About the Research

Why are you doing this research?

Well, there are a lot of reasons why we are doing this research. One reason is that, as a nation, the US is working really hard to prepare students to go into science as a career and invent, discover, and push us to do things we never thought possible. Another reason is that we want to make sure that all kids feel like science is an option for them. Historically (over a really long period of time), women, minorities, people who speak languages other than English, people who grew up in poor neighborhoods, and students with special needs haven’t felt really welcome in science classrooms or laboratories. We want to figure out how to change that.

Why are you asking kids to use their own DNA?

Even though we have had the opportunity to test our own DNA for about ten years, for most of that time it was either really expensive or controversial (which made people upset). We think that students will have a more positive experience learning about science if they are using their own genetic information. What do you think? Yes or no?

What if campers didn’t want to talk about their genes or genealogy?

That was not a problem! We hoped that our young scientists would want to participate as much as possible, but we also understood that sometimes they might not want to talk about something. That’s totally fine, and we recommend keeping it that way in your programs/classrooms. If kids are asked a question they don’t want to answer, they should just say “I pass.” No one should ever push students or try to pressure them into sharing.

What if I don’t believe in evolution?

We aren’t here to be critical of, or challenge, anyone’s beliefs. Faith is an amazing thing – believing in things we can’t see, hear, touch. Science is different though. During this camp we will look, listen, touch, measure, collect and assess data that we will use to ask questions, make claims, support our claims with evidence, and use that evidence to explain our thinking.

What’s a FitBit?

A FitBit is an activity tracker that you wear on your wrist like a watch. It measures how many steps you take, how far you’ve traveled, how many calories you’ve burned, how many floors you’ve climbed, and your heart rate throughout the day.

Why are we using FitBits?

We are using FitBits for a couple of reasons. One reason is that it is really interesting to keep track of your activity. I wear one and I know that when I haven’t been very active, I am reminded to take a walk! Another reason is that the FitBit collects a lot of data that you can enter into an Excel table and track that data over time. Do you have a day that you are very active or really lazy? Is your heart rate off the charts in the morning/afternoon/evening? Can you make a prediction based on some of your data? How much data do you need in order to make a prediction? We’ll talk about all of that!

What if I’m adopted?

That’s great (my mom is adopted)! Your DNA is your DNA. The DNA test will tell you about the ancestry of your birth parents without identifying them. When you do genealogical research, you will research your adoptive parents. These are your parents. They pass on traditions and memories that you will carry with you forever. Your genealogical research will investigate where and when your forever parents and their parents and their parents were born, and other important stories as they choose to share with you. Exciting, right?!? That said, keep in mind that you can research about the regions your biologicals parents were from. You can learn about customs and traditions, spirituality and faith, feasts and celebrations, lullabies and folk tales. These are a part of your history too.

What if I’m curious about other information in my DNA?

If you want to investigate other aspects of your DNA that we don’t cover during the camp, you should talk to your parents about going through the information with them. After camp you should have some great ideas, and teaching is a great way to learn more!

About the Camp

How can someone attend the camp?

We are currently working on collaborating with schools, camps, and museums who want to offer a Finding Your Roots camp. Currently, we know that Science-U at Penn State plans to offer a one-week, residential version of the Finding Your Roots camp. Keep an eye on the Science-U website towards the end of 2017 for additional information.

Contact Us

617-216-0730
eaw24@psu.edu

Customize your own Finding Your Roots experience. Explore the Full Curriculum