5 Engaging Ways to Teach CRISPR-Cas9 

Job Brisby Eloja

CRISPR-Cas9 technology has taken the scientific world by storm in recent years. This technology lets scientists edit genes, changing the nucleotide bases to what they want. Its potential applications in the field of cancer therapy have been nothing short of revolutionary. 

CRISPR-Cas9 is a powerful tool for treating cancer. In particular, it can deactivate genes involved in a process called Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT), which is one hallmark of cancer. During EMT, cells that are normally stuck onto each other become free to move. EMT is what allows cancer cells to become malignant, spreading to other organs. 

For instructors teaching students molecular biology or cancer therapy, CRISPR-Cas9 is an important topic. To make it less intimidating, here are five creative ways to teach this topic.

1. Use Interactive Models and Demonstrations

CRISPR-Cas9 technology involves lots of complicated procedures in the lab. With that, it’s best to use hands-on experience to teach this topic. 

Interactive demonstrations can be an effective way to help students understand the intricacies of CRISPR-Cas9. Consider setting up a lab activity where students can experiment with this technology. Then, they can observe the effects of gene editing up close.

You can also use online simulation tools to create virtual experiments. This way, students can manipulate gene sequences and immediately see their effects. 

Interactive models give students a chance to see these concepts in action. As a result, you'll help them build a deeper understanding of the science behind CRISPR-Cas9 and its role in cancer therapy.

2. Make It Fun with Games and Activities

Learning doesn't have to be dry and boring! Infuse some fun into your lessons by incorporating games and activities that help students engage with learning materials in a new way. Students will even be learning while they’re not aware of it. They’re too focused on having fun!

Virtual lab simulations, like the CRISPR-Cas applied to TGF-beta induced EMT Virtual Lab from Labster, are great tools for this purpose. This simulation in particular lets students use CRISPR-Cas9 to deactivate certain genes that contribute to EMT. This way, they can stop cancer from spreading. 

Discover Labster's CRISPR-Cas virtual lab today!

The simulation gives them all the tools they need in a safe yet interactive virtual environment. If they fail the experiment, they can just repeat the simulation until they get it right. This way, they can be more confident with their skills before performing real experiments in an actual lab.

3. Integrate Technology as Teaching Tools

Today's students are digital natives, and they're comfortable using technology to learn and communicate. Take advantage of this by integrating technology into your teaching methods. 

For example, you could create a series of instructional videos that detail the process of gene editing via CRISPR-Cas9. Students can then watch the process of gene editing unfold. If they get confused, they can replay the videos as many times as they need to.

You could also create online quizzes or interactive modules. These help students test their knowledge of the topic. They can also get immediate feedback on what needs improvement. 

Modern-day students resonate well with technology-enabled learning. This way, you'll create a more dynamic learning experience for them.

4. Inspire Students by Exploring Possible Careers

One of the most effective ways to engage students is to help them see how they can use this topic in the future. Take some time to explore the different career paths that involve CRISPR-Cas9 and gene editing. These careers include:

  • Biotech startup founder
  • Cancer researcher
  • Oncologist
  • Medical doctor

You may also invite experts from industry or academia as guest lecturers. Let them share their experiences and knowledge with your students. As a bonus, students can ask these experts how to get into these careers in the future. 

5. Connect the Topic to its Real-World Applications

Finally, it's important to help students understand the real-world impact of CRISPR-Cas9 research. By connecting the topic to its applications in cancer therapy, you'll help students see the value of this topic.

One way to do this is to highlight recent breakthroughs in the field. For example, you could discuss the use of CRISPR-Cas9 to target specific genes found only in cancer cells. With these genes deactivated, scientists can eliminate cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.

You could also have students watch testimonials from patients who have benefited from CRISPR-Cas9 treatments. By showing students the human impact of this topic, you'll inspire them to continue learning.

Final Thoughts

Teaching CRISPR-Cas9 and TGF-beta-induced EMT can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By using interactive demonstrations, games and activities, technology, real-world applications, and career exploration, you'll create a more effective learning experience for your students.

Remember, the key is to help students see the relevance and value of their education. Also, you can make it fun by using interactive simulations like Labster’s CRISPR-Cas applied to TGF-beta induced EMT Virtual Lab. With this, students can experience firsthand how CRISPR-Cas9 works in cancer therapy. 

Try our free 30-day All Access Educator's Pass today and play the CRISPR-Cas9 simulation alongside 300+ other virtual labs!
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