Celebrate Palindrome Days with these genetics and chromosome activities

Palindrome days are exciting and rare events in human history. What’s a palindrome day, you ask? It’s a day where the numbers on the calendar are the same forward and backward. For example, Sunday, February 2, 2020.

Check it out: 02022020 (hold the number up to a mirror if you don’t believe us)!

If you weren’t prepared for the last Palindrome day celebrations, don’t fret. Here are the dates for the next five years, so you have plenty of time to get ready:

  • January 20, 2021 (1202021)
  • December 2, 2021 (12022021)
  • February 20, 2022 (2202022)
  • March 20, 2023 (3202023)
  • April 20, 2024 (4202024)
  • May 20, 2025 (5202025)

But, palindromes don’t just exist on the calendar, they’re everywhere around us. In language, in math, and…in science! Palindrome dates are the perfect time to introduce your students to the beauty of science in sequences all around us. Read on for some examples of palindromes in science, and fun ways to incorporate them in your lessons.

Palindromes exist in nature too

The future scientists in your class will be excited to learn that we have palindromes in our bodies, too-- in the way DNA will sometimes encode information. For example, the Whitehead Institute discovered that the Y chromosome makes backup copies of its genes. The copies are in 8 large areas of mirror-image ATCG sequences on the chromosome. Because the Y chromosome has no partner with which to swap genes, it relies on its own palindromes to swap genes with itself.

Talk about making lemonade out of lemons!

Y chromosome palindromes sound efficient, but there is a downside

Not to be a downer, but sometimes the Y chromosome that becomes a palindrome can be a problem. With two centromeres (the region that joins sister chromosomes), the palindromic Y gets its signals crossed. That mix-up can cause several disorders, such as Turner Syndrome.  The good news is that scientists now understand this process and are developing treatments.

Getting students excited about your genetics lessons will help create future generations of researchers who discover new clues and perhaps new treatments.

As always, if you have questions about genetics lessons or anything else, ask the Ward’s Science Plus Us team at sciencehelp@vwr.com. Our in-house scientists and technicians are ready to answer even the toughest inquiries.

* Not all countries celebrate Palindrome Day because they use a different format -- Year-Month-Day or Day-Month-Year.

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