While we prattle on about genetics in class, I think of clams and millipedes and all kinds of critters in these parts, and every one of them closer to us than my kids realize. All the big questions of how to survive on this planet were answered billions of years ago. The rest is just fine tuning.
Humulin, sold as human insulin, is made by E. coli, the same E. coli found in poop.
Because if you put a piece of human DNA into bacteria, the bacteria will treat it as its own--there is fundamentally no difference between the DNA found in your skin cells and the DNA of the critters in your poop. All life forms we know are this closely related.
"Knowing" high school genetics well enough to ace an exam may give you a little jolt of satisfaction, but will not, by itself, get you closer to understanding anything about the living. Words are hardly necessary for survival, they've only been a round for a few thousand years, and I suspect they won't be around in a few thousand more.
Words, however, define most of what we think matters, and so long as we think that, kids will be able to pass biology tests without the vaguest notion of what being alive means.
You need a mudflat for that.
How do you test a child's sense of connection to the universe?