July 27, 2017
I walked into Camp East Woods in Oyster Bay, Long Island, about twenty minutes before class started. Dozens of kids, from four years old to sophomores in high school, were trying to figure out where their friends were, checking different rooms to see who had arrived. It smelled like sunscreen and sweat.
I was there for the Serious Science program, where kids of all ages get to explore everything from biochemistry to engineering. The syllabus included CRISPR, the powerful gene editing technology that allows you to cut out and change specific sections of DNA. Researchers are using it to battle things like HIV, blindness, and malaria, just to name a few.
CRISPR is all the rage in the scientific community, and I was curious how Jane Powel, who leads the program, planned to teach this crucial subject to young kids. When new science makes its way into mainstream conversations, especially powerful science like CRISPR, those discussions can suffer when there’s a significant gap in knowledge between researchers and the public. Without everyone at the table, conversations can become tainted with confusion, fear, and impulsive decisions. And that education has to start pretty early.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.