I’m Not Sure I Liked James Watson: Using a Video to Tell the Most Exciting Discovery in Biology

Written by Kelly A. Hogan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Learning Outcomes:

– To learn the structure of DNA and the names of famous scientists that contributed to its dicsovery

– To appreciate that scientific discovery and competition involves real people with real personalities

Activity Description: Students watch part of the PBS special, The Secret of Life. Students have questions to fill in while watching to keep them actively engaged. Students then write short comments about the characters in the race.

Time Needed: 1 hour and 15 minutes (approximately 55 minutes video time, plus time to write comments and discussion)

Materials Needed: Worksheet and possibly notecards

Activity Instructions: Play the Secret of Life Video Part 1. I was able to show it online via:


After the video, ask students to write their thoughts about two of the characters. Students can write short essays to be graded, or in a large class, students can write some anonymous comments on a small notecard. If using a notecard, students can then swap them with classmates. Classmates then volunteer to read the comments on the card they are holding. Students have fun reflecting on the different personalities and it brings a personal aspect to science.

More to discover at the PBS website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/dna/episode1/index.html

Worksheet: I’m Not Sure I Liked James Watson Worksheet