Whole-genome screening for newborns, and the importance of active learning for STEM

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Today, most newborns get some biochemical screens of their blood, but whole-genome sequencing is a much more comprehensive look at an infant—maybe too comprehensive? Staff Writer Jocelyn Kaiser joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the ethical ins and outs of whole-genome screening for newborns, and the kinds of infrastructure needed to use these screens more widely.

Sarah also talks with three contributors to a series of vignettes on the importance of active learning for students in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Yuko Munakata, professor in the department of psychology and Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, talks about how the amount of unstructured time and active learning contributes to developing executive function—the way our brains keep us on task.

Nesra Yannier, special faculty at Carnegie Mellon University and inventor of NoRILLA, discusses an artificial intelligence–driven learning platform that helps children explore and learn about the real world.

Finally, Louis Deslauriers, senior preceptor in the department of physics and director of science teaching and learning at Harvard University, laments lectures: why we like them so much, why we think we learn more from lectures than inquiry-based learning, and why we’re wrong.

This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy.

[Image: Jerry Lai/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

[Alt text: newborn baby feet]

[Authors: Sarah Crespi; Jocelyn Kaiser]

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