Hsien-Hsien Lei of the Eye on DNA blog recently asked readers to define genetics in one simple sentence. I tried, with the following:
Genetics is the study of the operating instructions for life.
To this could be added: Scientists look at how the instructions are passed from one generation to the next, how instructions differ from one living thing to another, and how the instructions work.
For a "young" audience, something modern--operating instructions--could be useful. Note that the second sentence distinguishes the various components of genetic study: inheritance, form, function.
Never have been able to speak or write concisely.
Anyway, one of the responders happens to have the job of translating genetic information into understandable English. Asked how he got such a job and where it is, he directed readers to hiswebsite--Understanding Genetics.
His site includes an excellent interactive set of questions, which I chose to answer for myself. The current categories are stem cell research and human cloning, genetic screening and designer babies, and genetically modified foods. I particularly like the introductions he gives, which include a brief description and a list of pros and cons. His multiple choice selections are well thought-out. Once you provide your answer, you are able to examine the deomgraphics of people who answered as you did--or any other possible answer.
Great job, Barry! I like your site and the excellent model for interactive questions.