FYR Recent News

Two episodes of “Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings” earn Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award nominations, two years running!

For excellence in a program or special that covers schools, teaching or education.

Crew: Kristian Berg (producer/director), Cheraine Stanford (producer), Tyler Henderson (editor)

“Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings” is a web series following 13 young people using science and research skills at a new genetics and genealogy camp to answer the question “Who am I?” With an innovative curriculum envisioned by Henry Louis Gates Jr., host of the popular PBS series “Finding Your Roots” and developed by a team led by Penn State professor Nina Jablonski from the College of the Liberal Arts, campers explore their own family history and DNA ancestry with techniques never before used in an educational setting.

DNA tests help students realize a bigger connection to world

“More than 60 years after scientists made crucial discoveries about the structure of DNA, 20 students at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy gained insight into some of the molecular mysteries that make them who they are. Last fall, while studying life sciences, the girls swabbed their cheeks and sent samples off to Living DNA, a U.K.-based consumer DNA testing company. The big reveal of the test results this week left a big impression on the seventh graders, who were able to make real-world connections to topics they have been studying all semester long including colorism, bigotry and genotypes.” (article by Nedra Rhone, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


WPSU wins Telly Award for outstanding video production with “Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings (episode 1)”


Photo by WPSU Penn State

New genetics, genealogy curriculum included in STEM education showcase

A new middle school genetics and genealogy curriculum developed in part by Penn State will be featured during an online showcase that highlights innovation and STEM education.

The 2018 STEM for All Video Showcase, funded by the National Science Foundation, will be held online at stemforall2018.videohall.com from May 14 to 21. Researchers from Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts helped develop the curriculum “The Finding Your Roots Genetics & Genealogy Curriculum.” WPSU Penn State produced the video that will be featured in the showcase.


Photo by Kristian Berg, WPSU.

Understanding Roots Opens Students to Science, Diversity

Focusing science education on students through genetic and genealogical studies may be the way to increase minorities in the pipeline and engage students who would otherwise deem science too hard or too uninteresting, according to a Penn State anthropologist.

“Henry Louis Gates (Jr.) and I talked about using personalized genetics and genealogy in classrooms as a way to help get kids to understand their heritage and be proud,” said Nina Jablonski, Evan Pugh University Professor of Anthropology, Penn State. “And especially for African-American kids to connect with their heritage. Then also, equally, as a way to create interest in science.”


Nina Jablonski hosted a symposium titled “Understanding Your Roots: STEM Diversity and an Evidence-Based Curriculum” at the 2018 AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, TX on February 17, 2018. Biz Wright (Penn State) and Brandon Ogbunu (Brown Univ.) presented preliminary research and teaching methodologies from the Penn State led Finding Your Roots summer camps, while Aditi Pai (Spelman College) shared details about an undergraduate level genetics and genealogy course. Please see Penn State News for more details.

WPSU Digging Deeper with Eric Barron: Interview with Nina Jablonski and Michael Zeman about the Finding Your Roots Summer Camp

One-of-a-kind summer camp offered at Penn State for the first time

Finding Your Roots project website and Science-U camp website available

Gates hoping to inspire love of STEM through genealogy

Finding Your Roots curriculum receives $659,000 in grants; PBS series returns in January

Penn State, Harvard team up to enhance science education for minority students


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