DNA and Ethics: Unraveling the Code of Life
- Teacher: Joan K. Carlson
- Subject: ethical debate, history of DNA
- Grade Level(s): 9 10 11 12
- Target Audience: Biology I, II, AP Biology, Genetics
- Materials Needed: slide projector, screen
- Class Time: 45 minutes for presentation or 90 minutes to conduct debates
- Brief Summary: Paper and slide presentation which I have developed traces genetics from Mendel and Darwin through Watson and Crick to modern biotechnology. Questionnaire on audience's attitudes toward present day biotechnology techniques is provide. A series of debates is held addressing several current day biotechnology topics presented by students.
- Student Objective(s): To provide a mechanism for students to apply their knowledge of genetics and ethical decision making models to analyze and debate a variety of different genetics topics currently at issue in today's society.
- Integration (tying it all together): A slide presentation on the history of DNA is used as a kick-off. Students in my course "DNA and Ethics" are taught about ethical decision making models and basic principles of modern DNA
technology. Each group of two students chooses a debate topic and researches the pro's and con's of the particular issues using texts, and library resources including
newspapers, magazines, and computer support materials. They present their background materials, debate the topic for their classmates and then the class votes on each issue.
- Description of Activities: After viewing slide presentation, students answer a questionnaire which assesses their knowledge and attitude toward present day topics that relate to biotechnology. Group breaks into smaller sections of 6 to 10 people and addresses specific individual ethical genetic questions, collects data and opinions, and later shares results with the group as a whole. Also available are several debate projects which must be researched and pesented in a debate format.
- Further Information and References: Woodrow Wilson Workshop materials on Bioethics and Workshop Populations to Molecules on Biotechnology. Human Genetics by Ricki Lewis, William Brown Publishers, 1994
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