Didactic research in High School for innovative STEM bioinformatics activities



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Innovative didactic research in High School for STEM Bioinformatics activities to use this modern science as creative opportunity to construct scientific applicative itinerary for secondary school students. I have realized different STEM bioinformatic research didactic activities for High School, sharing strategies with european bioscience teachers, working as didactic researcher teacher and  teaching in different phases during curricular lessons. It is very important the planning of activities, creating interesting didactic projects and to decide how to enter bioinformatics in topics of bioscience school subjects. Teacher – researcher that choose bioinformatics teaching, using biological data base and scientific articles useful for students, creating practical interesting bioinformatic activities, writing with student terminal scientific reports about results in these different activities.

KEY WORDS: Boinformatics science, teacher didactic researcher, learning active strategies, primary and secondary bioinformatic banks, proteomic science, genomic science, interdisciplinarity learning, bioinformatic surfing



Bioinformatic is a multidisciplinary science that links biology, biomedicine, proteomic science, genomic science, engineering, mathematics  ICT science. Bioinformatic is oriented to resolve molecular biological problems with informatics instruments. This science was born in 1960 after DNA’s discover and after collecting the high numbers of biological informations about life obtained in the years.  From informations about DNA and RNA to computational biology with links between biology and informatics science.

Applications of bioinformatics

  • Creation and maintenance of databases to store biological informations
  • Development of mathematical and statistical tools for analysis, interpretation and continuous updating of biological information
  • Development of new tools to assess relationships among members of large data sets in order to obtain a comprehensive picture of normal cellular activities and their alterations, studies about molecular biology evolution.
  • Data sharing between international researchers

Bioinformatics includes:

  1. Databases collecting experimental data generated in research laboratories
  2. Software for navigating databases


The  global approach to the study of biological data includes different matters and collaborations between professions in biology, physics, mathematics, biomedicine, ICT science in idea of complexity of science. Bioinformatic refers to the possibility for  analysis and comparison of:

  • Genomes (the whole genetic information of a given organism)
  • Transcriptomes (the full set of RNAs of a given organism)
  • Proteomes (the full set of  proteins of a given organism)


Biological databases is a biological web site with a large collection of information and data derived from laboratory studies (in vitro and in vivo analysis), from  bioinformatics (in silico analysis) and from the scientific literature. Data is structured so to enable efficient user access and management of different types of information. Some important results about bioinformatics search are about homologous genes in different species, also in model organism species as Mouse: Mus musculus or as Fruit fly: Drosophila melanogaster

With Bioinformatics it is possible the identification of disease-associated genes; identification of genes and genetic markers; prediction of three-dimensional structures of protein and organisms evolution; design of new drugs; data sharing.

There are primary and secondary bioinformatic banks. The Primary bank is a collection of biological and biomedical data bases inserted by researchers essential archival in nature (examples: GeneBank, Protein Data Bank). The secondary bank comprise data derived from the results of analyzing primary data and contain also links with scientific articles or tools useful to compare different data (examples: Uniprot, Ensembl).


Bioinformatic is important because it is a collection of biological data and the scientists use them for their studies and works with interdisciplinary aspects, to compare their new discoveries with old ones and make them accessible to all people, also students.

It is very interesting and motivating for biology researcher teacher to use different primary and secondary databases to create didactic itinerary about some biological aspects with inquire methods and with innovative way. As didactic researcher – teacher it is possible to guide researchers – students to realize bioinformatics activities with different objectives : to compare chromosomes of organisms with different complexity levels, searching similar sequences (sinteny) in different chromosomes and in particular model organism as mus musculus; to search structural similar in tridimensional families of proteins; to collect biological information about genes of genetic diseases, surfing about Favism or Neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer.


I have realized different activities and I have projected didactic itinerary for high school classes at different levels, with 16 years or 18 years students, organizing these different phases:

  1. lessons about theoretical information about history and evolution of bioinformatic science;
  2. lessons of presentation some bioinformatics banks, structural web pages for description by  students;
  3. lessons about presentation planning of bioinformatic activities (sector evolution; sector biomedicine; sector proteins; sector genes);
  4. lessons with students bioinformatics activities in little group with computer and phase of bioinformatic job for each group, didactic form to fill;
  5. lessons with rielaboreted activities, surfing in bioinformatic banks;
  6. terminal sharing between students, different results of elaborated activities.

Bioinformatics science permits to work into High school classes in creative and innovative way planning STEM educational itinerary for students.  Not in standard way and then not coping guidelines of protocols already realized in others schools or contests , but creating new High school didactic bioinformatics activities as innovator teacher didactic researcher. Bioinformatics is in fact ideal STEM science to programme innovative activities educating students, also to use technology in reasoned and involved way with didactic interdisciplinary approaches.


  1. Marina Minoli, “Elements of bioinformatics science for High School”, in Pearson Editor – Guide Biology Cambpell Book for teachers, first edition 2009, second edition 2011
  2. Marina Minoli, “Elements of didactic innovation to study complex systems: links between biology research and informatics”, Emmeciquadro , 12/2017
  3. David Form, Fran Lewitter, Ten simpleRules for teaching Bioinformatics at the High School Levels – PLOS Computational Biology, 2011
  4. Corrado Priami, “Informatic and biology systems”, Digital world, n.1, 3/2004

Article written by: Marina Minoli, University Science Didactic Expert, Tenured Biology researcher – teacher, ONBI (National Biologists Order) and Royal Society of Biology Member

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