Reflection: High Expectations To GMO or not? That is the question... (Day #3 of 3) - Section 3: Instructional Input/Student Activities


This brings us back to the original question: “Just because genetic engineering can be done, should it be done?”

Student A concludes that GMOs are mostly harmful. A focus is placed on cost, unhealthy nature of GM food, and controversial aspects of industry. She overlooks the purported resistance/tolerance benefits however, possibly because these were unimportant to her.

Student B concludes that GMOs can be either harmful or helpful. She focuses on the efficiency of plant propagation yielding various resistance traits. She views the cons as unintended effects on the food chain, including humans. Still too many unknowns to research and evaluate. Overall, she sees a balance between pros and cons. 

All in all, it seems that the claims were selected with deference to the evidence but also to the student's worldview and hierarchy of values. Are all pieces of evidence the same? How ought one to value an individual piece of evidence with respect to another? What is most important in an agricultural product? Cost? Nutritional value? Harmful side-effects? To what extent is known about the product?

Each of us brings a unique combination of these values and concerns to the table and it is impossible to come to 100% consensus in a classroom let alone in the scientific community or society at large.

Regardless, has the student demonstrated the ability to unpack a challenging scientific text, make meaning of it, and use the information to make a well-reasoned argument? If yes, as these two samples indicate, then we have some budding scientific literacy on our hands!

  High Expectations: Reading for Understanding
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To GMO or not? That is the question... (Day #3 of 3)

Unit 5: 5) Genetic Engineering
Lesson 6 of 6

Objective: Students will make and defend a claim stating their position (i.e. argue) regarding the creation and use of genetically modified organisms with consideration of its pros and cons.

Big Idea: Biotechnology (and genetic engineering in particular) can produce changes that are helpful or harmful.

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Science, annotation, Genetics, GMOs, point of view, Genetic Engineering, argument, engineering
  55 minutes
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