Forum: Explain bioinformatics to a 10 year old
6
gravatar for novice
3.1 years ago by
novice910
United States
novice910 wrote:

I was recently in an interesting situation where I had to explain what bioinformatics means to my 10 year old niece. I was really challenged.

How would you explain what you do as a bioinformatician to your 10 year old niece?

forum bioinformatics • 2.3k views
ADD COMMENTlink modified 3.1 years ago by ksi21650 • written 3.1 years ago by novice910
4

The workshop described on this thread is cool and may be a fun game to play with your niece.

ADD REPLYlink written 3.1 years ago by h.mon24k
1

Nice! I'm definitely letting her try that "find what genes do" Perl script!

ADD REPLYlink written 3.1 years ago by novice910
1

Hey, that's me! Hope it helps!

ADD REPLYlink written 3.1 years ago by Daniel3.7k
15
gravatar for venu
3.1 years ago by
venu6.1k
Germany
venu6.1k wrote:

To make it super simple to my niece, I would say there is a thread named DNA in everyone's body and it has all the information on how your hair grows and how tall you become after growing up etc and also information of your health. Because of some mistakes/modification in this thread people become ill. So I'll take out the copy of ill people's thread and check where the mistake has been happened comparing with a healthy thread. As this thread is very very long I use our computer to do this task.

ADD COMMENTlink modified 3.1 years ago • written 3.1 years ago by venu6.1k
5
gravatar for Istvan Albert
3.1 years ago by
Istvan Albert ♦♦ 80k
University Park, USA
Istvan Albert ♦♦ 80k wrote:

This is amusing since I have an 8 year old, so I gave it a shot, this is how it went:

  • Hey Agnes, do you know what I do?
  • No.
  • See there are these little computers inside us, I try to understand how they work.
  • How small are they?
  • Very-very tiny.
  • For how long are you going to be doing this?
  • Ummm ... forever?
ADD COMMENTlink modified 3.1 years ago • written 3.1 years ago by Istvan Albert ♦♦ 80k
5
gravatar for rbagnall
3.1 years ago by
rbagnall1.4k
Australia
rbagnall1.4k wrote:

There was a post on the ACGT.me blog by @kbradnam (I think!) where he used a tool called the Up-goer five text editor to explain genomics.

The Up-goer 5 text editor attempts to explain hard ideas using only the 1000 most common words in the English language.

Here is the resulting description of genomics from the blog:

"In every cell of our bodies, there is a written plan that explains how that cell should make all of the things that it needs to make. A cell that grows hair is very different to a cell that is in your heart or brain. However, all cells still have the same plan but different parts of the plan are turned on in different cells.

We first understood what the full plan looks like for humans in 2003. We can use computers to make sense of the plan and to learn more about how many parts are needed to make a human (about 20,000). The better we understand the plan, the more we might be able to make human lives better."

ADD COMMENTlink written 3.1 years ago by rbagnall1.4k
1

"Data" is not allowed? That's a weird system.

ADD REPLYlink written 3.1 years ago by RamRS21k
3
gravatar for Tanvir Ahamed
3.1 years ago by
Sweden
Tanvir Ahamed 270 wrote:

Interesting problem !! Lets try..

Think you have a little sister or brother. but you both have same parents. Why you both are different ? Once your brother/sister is sick, you are not. What makes that difference?

I will show him a building and will tell , form outside you are observing this smooth building . But you know this building is created with lots of little piece of bricks or blocks. Some blocks are good in quality and some block are bad in quality .

Then i will show him another building and will tell , may be this building also build with the bricks/ blocks form the same company. But this building is completely different form the previous one . Because the blocks in this building are not organised like the previous one.

Same as building , our human body is also created with some building block . They are symbolized as A,T,G,C. Some parts of this build blocks are organised different way in different human. In bioinformatics we are trying to understand , how this building block are organised in our body with the help of computer .

ADD COMMENTlink modified 3.1 years ago • written 3.1 years ago by Tanvir Ahamed 270
2
gravatar for san.san
3.1 years ago by
san.san90
Wales, UK
san.san90 wrote:

There's a lot of answers that take on explaining of DNA and genetics in a very simple manner. Very good answers, but I think they're more appropriate for very young children (3-4 years old).

By the age of 2 children teach themselves how to talk (sometimes in more than one language) and walk which are no easy tasks. I'm sure a 10 year old can understand genetics very well without the use of metaphors.

I'd go about it the way I go about it with my humanitarian friends. Draw some pictures to explain sequencing, assembly, and maybe BLASTs for annotation to explain how new organisms are being studied via bioinformatics. Explain that it's essentially a big complex jigsaw puzzle. And say that bioinformatics tools are like calculators. 10 year old children know what coding is, and if not (which I doubt), this can be explained very easily with a simple example in Python.

Give kids some credit :)

ADD COMMENTlink written 3.1 years ago by san.san90

while I agree with the sentiment it is also important not to oversimplify what bioinformatics actually is - blasting for annotations, mapping to the DNA, assembling genomes are IMHO rudimentary methods that (hopefully) we won't be using for too long. The moment we are able to accurately measure long pieces of DNA the majority of what we call bioinformatics today will change radically.

ADD REPLYlink written 3.1 years ago by Istvan Albert ♦♦ 80k

That's true. I myself haven't got much experience in bioinformatics, hence my explanations to my friends are very simple with some mention of magical systems biology. Hopefully that will change soon for me too!

ADD REPLYlink written 3.1 years ago by san.san90
1
gravatar for A. Domingues
3.1 years ago by
A. Domingues2.0k
Mainz, Germany
A. Domingues2.0k wrote:

The use of computers to discover new things in nature? We spend our time writing computer code, but instead of creating a game, we try to use that code to find out how nature works.

I don't think I can make it simpler.

ADD COMMENTlink written 3.1 years ago by A. Domingues2.0k
1
gravatar for kloetzl
3.1 years ago by
kloetzl1.0k
European Union
kloetzl1.0k wrote:

I like to say that I compute the family tree of bacteria.

ADD COMMENTlink written 3.1 years ago by kloetzl1.0k
1
gravatar for Prakki Rama
3.1 years ago by
Prakki Rama2.2k
Singapore
Prakki Rama2.2k wrote:

I would say "using computers to solve biology problems". If he is stumped, it is ok. But if he is more curious what are those biological problems, then i ll bring, molecules like DNA, RNA, code, program etc and eloborate.

ADD COMMENTlink modified 3.1 years ago • written 3.1 years ago by Prakki Rama2.2k
1
gravatar for 5heikki
3.1 years ago by
5heikki8.4k
Finland
5heikki8.4k wrote:

First I would refresh the 10 year old's memory about DNA a little bit (at that age they should have already heard about it at school). Then I would say that basically I study this DNA stuff with the help of computers and that's that.

ADD COMMENTlink written 3.1 years ago by 5heikki8.4k
1
gravatar for ivivek_ngs
3.1 years ago by
ivivek_ngs4.8k
Seattle,WA, USA
ivivek_ngs4.8k wrote:

I would put it a very simple way to a 10 year old.

1st try:

I try to give everyone a healthy lifestyle and proper information workflows with my computers, so that they can function in biologically relevant way and be aware of problems in that they might incur in life.

Alternative try,

I am a mechanic who tries to use a bunch of computer programs to understand the system of living objects and its biological relevance for healthy being just as car mechanic does with his/her tools to understand the intricacies of a car to keep it running effectively.

ADD COMMENTlink modified 3.1 years ago • written 3.1 years ago by ivivek_ngs4.8k
0
gravatar for Parham
3.1 years ago by
Parham1.4k
Sweden
Parham1.4k wrote:

I use computers to find out how living things work or how they are related to one another =) But in order to ask computers to answer my questions I had to learn their language first.

ADD COMMENTlink written 3.1 years ago by Parham1.4k
0
gravatar for ksi216
3.1 years ago by
ksi21650
ksi21650 wrote:

First I would simplify dna and then basically say you use computers to work with them. Thats without going into detail.

ADD COMMENTlink written 3.1 years ago by ksi21650
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