This ilesson is one I worked into our curriculum to introduce students to the field of bioethics and how science is related to our social and legal institutions. I have enjoyed using the actual California Supreme Court case documents related to Mr. Moore, Dr. Golde, and the Mo cell line and students have commented that they were interested in the fact that although it is an older case, it was tried in our state of California and involves a local university, UCLA. In previous years, some classes have initiated a writing campaign to the UC Regents to discuss their thoughts after working with this case.
I could easily see this discussion and activity stemming from or branching out to the more recent book by Rebecca Skloot concerning Henrietta Lacks and the HeLa cell line entitled The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. In fact, the book mentions the Golde/Moore case in terms of similar concerns about property and commercial rights of human tissue. I did not choose to do that in class this year because I didn't have the budget to buy the books for students to read together as a class and I felt that working with primary documents such as the court transcripts was an important part of the student experience, both in terms of CCSS standards and overall student interest. By starting with this landmark case, we also set up an opportunity for further investigation into the subject since then either by the class as a whole or by individual students later in the year. However, the interest in this topic was so high that I included an additional extension activity focusing on Skloot's book about Ms. Lacks and you can see some of my student's work on this related story below as well.
Bioethics cases are a great way to connect our science curriculum to social studies, history, social justice, and civil liberties. Students feel passionately about fairness and equity issues and this topic is one that resonates with them as soon-to-be-voting young adults. They also provide an opportunity to work in practice with our current speaking and listening, reading, and writing standards in a way that feels relevant to students and their lives.
1. Write the following prompts on the board and ask students to discuss briefly within their lab groups:
What does the term ethics mean to you?
What do all of these things have in common: right to die, surrogacy contracts and other reproductive technologies, payment for organs.
2. Use the spokesperson protocol to share out the thoughts of the group. Students will be able to give a definition of ethics and may be familiar with some of the topics on your list. They will be able to see that what they have in common is controversy and strong differences in public opinion about the right way to handle them as a society/country.
3. Tell students that all of these issues and more fall within the realm of bioethics. Define the terms bioethics on the board and share with the class that today, you will be discussing a cell related bioethics issue.
1. Pass out the Moore bioethics case document for today's activity.
NOTE ADD IN MOORE ARTICLE if it is ok, check on copyright if not, add web link to this related article.
2. Use a group reading technique such as the popcorn method to read through the timeline of Mr. Moore's interactions with Dr. Golde.
3. Share out the first part of the Supreme Court ruling on the last page of the case document concerning Dr. Golde's duty to disclose and give students the opportunity to share out their feelings/thoughts about this half of their ruling. As students share their ideas, keep bringing the conversation back to their supporting evidence from the case summary by saying "What makes you say that?"
4. Now it is time to focus on the second half of the decision: the question of money owed to Mr. Moore. Give students a few minutes to discuss their thoughts about the following prompts:
Does Dr. Golde owe Mr. Moore money from the profits he made from Mr. Moore's cells that he used without Mr. Moore's permission?
If so, why and how much? If not, why not?
5. Using the spokesperson protocol, have students share out their responses.
5. Now it is your turn to do the big reveal about this aspect of the case and listen to the groans and high five sounds as students compare the Court's decision to their own analysis of the case.
1. Turn to the last page of the case summary document to outline their role play/creative writing assignment.
2. Tell students that they will have the rest of the period to discuss their project ideas and plan with their partner.
3. While students are talking, circulate to support any student discussions about the content of the case document, their ideas for a video or writing, and any other issues they might want to confer with you about during this brief planning session.
1. On the due date, collect student work. Tell students they have 5 minutes to prepare for their brief class share-out. Remind them of our public speaking basic guidelines.
2. Most students this year chose to create videos. Check out this student work sample video by a student who chose to work by himself to interpret the material and create a breaking news story clip about the case. I am very proud of the work this student did to think deeply about the ethical issues of the case as evidenced by our conversations about the class reading and discussion and how to best communicate that understanding through video.
3. Allow each student group a few minutes to present their video or writing to the class. Students will be eager to appreciate though applause and positive comments. Depending upon the time you have available, you can structure or extend the comment section with more formal prompts such as:
What stands out most about this presentation?
Did your thinking/perspective change? If not, why not? If so, how?
You will get all kinds of responses about changes or affirmations about student thinking/mindset about the issues in this case!