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What's Up With Gena?

An Introduction to Biotechnology in the High School

Secondary

Description

This challenging classroom resource offers hands-on, inquiry-based lessons that explore the subject of biotechnology by means of a 'real-world' simulation. Students follow Gena Karbowski’s breast cancer diagnosis and treatment options to learn about gene therapy and genetic screening. The activities allow students to apply their knowledge of genetics, heredity and biotechnology as they are put in the role of scientist, health care provider, and friend to Gena and her family.  This learning package requires students to have a strong background in cell structure/function, the structure of DNA and RNA, protein synthesis, genetic mutations, mitosis, meiosis, genetics and heredity.  As such it provides a unique and valuable exercise to support high school biology programs.

Lesson One: What’s Up with Gena? (1 X 60min)

Students are introduced to patient Gena Karbowski’s case and asked to formulate an hypothesis for the problems she is experiencing.

Lesson Two: Genetic Testing (4 X 60min)

After students learn that Gena has breast cancer, they are introduced to methods of DNA extraction, sequencing and testing. Activities include performing a cheek DNA extraction, a restriction enzyme simulation and completing a paper electrophoresis lab to identify disease-causing genes. An on-line data base is used to link the results of the DNA electrophoresis lab to a known DNA sequence.

Lesson Three: Family Interviews (2 X60 min)       

Students form medical research groups and after watching interviews of family members conducted by a genetics counselor,  they create a family pedigree for Gena.

Lesson Four: Counseling my Genetics (2 X 60min)

Students do Internet research on the role of a genetic counselor. They consider why or why not a person should opt for genetic testing. After discussion, groups of students decide which members of Gena’s family should take part in genetic testing.

Lesson Five: Electrophoresis Discovery (4 X 60 min)

Students perform a gel electrophoresis procedure to test Gena’s daughter Elizabeth’s DNA for the cancer gene p53. The electrophoresis sorts out fragments of DNA to determine the presence of a mutated gene. This lab is part of a cancer gene detection kit which must be ordered and purchased separately.

Lesson Six: Recombinant DNA Technology (2 X 60min)

Students research new medical techniques that are being used to treat diseases using DNA technology and then take on the role of a molecular biologist by completing a paper lab simulation which explores the possibilities of the use of recombinant DNA . Reflection questions are provided for further discussion.

Lesson Seven:  Phixagene Inc. (5 x 60min)

After reading background information on breast cancer genes, pharmacogenetics, pharmacogenomics, gene therapy, and stem cell therapy, students form research groups to propose and create a model for the treatment of a genetic mutation associated with breast cancer.

Lesson Eight: Biotechnology Career Exploration ( 3 X 60min)

After watching video of Pfizer scientists describing careers in biotechnology students complete a career exploration activity.  Using suggested links they research jobs in the biotechnology industry in terms of educational requirements, job descriptions, salary, and related occupations. Their findings are then shared with the class.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Using tools and apparatus to conduct investigations
  • Interpreting patterns and trends in data
  • Analyzing results
  • Evaluating processes used in planning, problem solving, and completing a task
  • Working cooperatively with group members
  • Critical thinking strategies
  • Suggesting alternatives and improvements to experimental designs
  • Communicating data effectively
  • Identifying further problems or issues to be investigated
  • Identifying various methods for finding answers to given questions as well as solutions to problems
  • Selecting and integrating information from various print and electronic sources

Strengths

  • An excellent, up-to-date and engaging resource
  • Students are given opportunities to reach their own conclusions and open-ended solutions are encouraged
  • Excellent background information for both teachers and students explaining very complex biological concepts
  • Lessons are well-presented and easy to use with the objective of each lesson clearly stated, and all worksheets, data tables and handouts are well-organized and student-friendly
  • The resource contains a teacher's guide, useful Power Points, videos and a curriculum mapping document
  • Suggested answers are included for most laboratory analysis and research questions
  • Many links to resources on the web are provided
  • Excellent case studies
  • Students get to use an on-line data base
  • Lab activities and simulations are well explained
  • Could be used as a very unique "stand alone" enrichment project

Weaknesses

  • Needs to be more opportunities for students to identify, clarify, and express their values with regards to bio-ethics
  • Rubrics will need to be developed by the teacher for most activities
  • No accommodations suggested for struggling readers and students
  • No answer key provided for cheek cell DNA extraction activity and paper electrophoresis lab
  • Teachers need a strong biology background to use this resource
  • No authentic action experience is included

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource could be used in high school science and biology courses to address outcomes associated with cell division, genetics and molecular biology. Science and technology classes would benefit from the discussions generated from the descriptions of current medical technologies used in fighting disease. It could also be used as a springboard to evaluate different societal perspectives on the development and use of biotechnology.

The entire package could also serve as very comprehensive enrichment project, studying the role of genes and inherited characteristics in improving human health.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 20-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science): Disease Defence and Human Health
        • Science 24:Disease Defence and Human Health
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 30: Cell Division, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science and Technology 11:Science Module: Health
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Cell Biology
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Current Topics in the Sciences 30S: Scientific & Technological Skills & Attitudes
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology: Understanding Biological Inheritance
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interdisciplinary Topics in Science 40S:Nature of Science and Technology
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Genetic Continuity
        • Biology 122/121
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 3201: Genetic Continuity
        • Biology 3201: Reproduction and Development
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 20-4:Disease Defense and Human Health
        • Science 24: Disease Defense and Human Health
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 30: Cell Division, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 12: Genetic Continuity
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 24:Disease Defence and Human Health
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Cell Division, Genetics and Molecular Biology
        • Biology 30
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 11 (College Prep.) Cellular Biology
        • Biology 11(College Prep.) Genetics
        • Biology 11(Univer.Prep.) Genetic Processes
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 12 (Univ. Prep.): Molecular Genetics
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Univ./College Prep.) Biotechnology
        • Science (Univ./College Prep.) Medical Technologies
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 621: Chromosomes, Genes and DNA
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 30: Genetics
  • Yukon Territory

Themes Addressed

  • Human Health & Environment (2)

    • Health Promotion
    • Quality of Life
  • Science and Technology (3)

    • Alternative Ways of Doing Science
    • Analysing Conventional Science
    • Appropriate Technology

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

The resource does not deal directly with religious and ethical perspectives surrounding the use of genetic applications of biotechnology. It presents a positive view of genetic manipulation.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

This resource does illustrate environmental, social and economic implications related to biotechnology.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

Although not examining all aspects of this issue, it does illustrate its complexity and promotes understanding, discussion and dialogue among the students.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory

There needs to be more opportunities for students to express their values and opinions on the personal and social impacts of bio-technology.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

This cancer case study promotes empathy for both people who live with cancer and their families.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Satisfactory

This resource promotes the use of molecular biology in the fight against disease as an alternative to the current toxic chemotherapy regiments and radiation treatments used. This ultimately is helpful to both humans and the planet.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

Present day approaches to diagnosis and treatments for cancer are presented and discussed. Modern bio-technology, with its concern for human health, is all about the future. The actions we take today may affect every future generation of human beings.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

A combination of structured and guided inquiry is used. Students are able to discover some answers on their own with regards to creating a model of treatment for the genetic mutations associated with breast cancer.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Poor/Not considered

This is primarily a science resource, but there are opportunities for addressing outcomes in language arts.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

Both cognitive and affective domains are addressed. A variety of instructional strategies are used, including simulations, hands-on inquiry, research, analysis of data, and role play. There are no accommodations suggested for struggling readers.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Very Good
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

This resource includes excellent follow-up questions for most lessons, complete with answer keys. Teachers will need to design their own evaluation tools and rubrics.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Very Good
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.