Cell Division (Day 3) - Design a Cancer Fighting Drug

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Students will be able to use the information gained from previous lessons to design a cancer fighting drug.

Big Idea

If you understand cell division, you could cure cancer.

Note to Teachers

The Cell Processes unit is part 2 of my Cells 'R Us project based learning experience. Once the students are familiar with the structure of cells, we move on to how cells work. The lessons in this sequence are based on the "need to know's" created by the students (with guidance) for the Cells 'R Us project.

The complete sequence I use for the Cells 'R Us project is:

This mitosis mini-unit uses the web-based inquiry science environment (WISE) developed by UC Berkeley. Before attempting access the interactive with the students, the teacher must have created an account, and started a run of the "What makes a good cancer medicine?: Observing mitosis and cell processes"  project (Project Id # 9924). This project mitosis unit helps students understand the process of cell division in the context of learning about cancer.

You can find instructions on how to set up a teacher account and student accounts in my Note to Teachers on the Photosynthesis - a WISE Activity Day 1 lesson.

The WISE platform should be run on Mozilla Firefox with javascript enabled. WISE does not play well when run on Internet Explorer or Chrome.


5 minutes

To encourage students to think about cells and cancer, I present this video. 

Then I ask students to Think-Pair-Share their answer to, "Why doesn't cancer just die off after one rogue division?" 


40 minutes

Once we have finished the discussion, I tell the students that today we will finish the WISE activity by designing a new cancer drug based on the information they have collected, and then explaining it's potential side effects to the patient.

Students get their computers and begin work on step 4.9 "Design a cancer fighting drug".

In step 4.10 "Explain your choice", I point out to the students that this work will be evaluated based on having ACE'd the following:

  • the phase(s) of mitosis the drug targets

  • the cell structure(s) the drug targets

  • why the drug targets this phase and cell structure

  • possible side effects of the drug on the whole body

Most of their time today will be used in developing the explanation, determining possible effects of their choice (XC-CE-MS-3), and conferring with one another (NGSS practice 6, 7 and 8). I tell the students that I would like them to post their answers in their blogs (SW1SW2SW3SW4SW5SW6SW7), so that they have a quick reference to this work in the future. 

Once they are satisfied with their response, they must continue the WISE activity all the way to the end.  


10 minutes

To close this mini-unit, I ask students to write an exit ticket where they explain, "In thinking about the Mitosis WISE activity, what was the most surprising thing you learned?"

Note to teachers:  During the presentation of the lesson, a student introduced the idea of mitosis being "cell cloning" since one cell produces two identical cells. In the context of the lesson it is an appropriate comparison, and you can see the idea reflected in several of the samples of student work presented (SW2SW6SW7). However, I will need to address the comparison when we I teach the unit on genetics to make sure that the students understand the difference.