Proteins in the Brain, Body and Nutrition: A Neurological Trifecta! (Day 1 of 2)

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Objective

Students will make and defend the claim that genetic factors influence brain health and development.

Big Idea

In general, genes and proteins have a linear relationship that dictates the general welfare of human body systems.

Introduction

Lesson Background & Justification:

    A Gene is a unit of heredity that is transferred from a parent to offspring and is held to determine some characteristic of the offspring. Genes come in alternate forms called alleles and are picked at random for distribution to the offspring. In genetics, patterns of gene shuffling are studied to better understand the inheritance probabilities and likelihood of one inheriting a genetic defect such as PKU. PKU or Phenylketonuria  is a rare condition in which a baby is born without the ability to properly break down an amino acid called phenylalanine. It is recessive disease that once inherited my cause problems for the cognitive domains of the brain due to toxic levels of a metabolite created when phenylalanine is metabolized. This lesson, the first of a 2 day lesson (Day 2), explores the early diagnostic side of PKU and addresses the molecular events that lead to the 

Prerequisite Knowledge: It is recommended that students be familiar with the structure and function of cells and protein synthesis.  

Lesson Preparations:

In the effort to prepare for this lesson, I make certain that I have the following items in place: 

a) A class set of Science Take Out: Testing for Genetic Disorders that Causes Brain Damage (1 set per student groups of 2). 

b) Student lab books.

Common Core and NGSS Standards:

HS-LS3-2- Make and defend a claim based on evidence that inheritable genetic variations may result from: (1) new genetic combinations through meiosis, (2) viable errors occurring during replication, and/or (3) mutations caused by environmental factors.

MS-LS3-1Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism.

SP2- Developing and using models.  

Standards Rationale:

      Modeling is the process by which scientists represent ideas about the natural world to each other, and then collaboratively make changes to these representations over time in response to new evidence and understandings. It is intimately connected to other scientific processes (asking questions, communicating information, etc.) and improves students ability to recall scientific jargon through association. In the classroom, it is important that teachers engage students in modeling practices, to set the foundation of success in a lesson or instructional unit. In this lesson modeling is used in concert with other science practices in the classroom to promote students’ reasoning and understanding of core science idea presented.

Engage

10 minutes

Section Primer:

    Newborn screening tests are test taken between the first 48-72 hours of an infants life to  look for developmental, genetic, and metabolic disorders in the newborn baby. This allows steps to be taken before symptoms develop so that illnesses that are very rare can be treated if caught early. In this section of the lesson, my objective is to open a class dialogue to find out what students know about these screenings. The idea is to prime students with the idea that tests taken in early infancy could prevent a great deal of problems for people later in life including brain problems. This activity proceeds as follows:

Section Sequence:

a) Slide 1: Read and engage students in the first question prompt on the screen. If students have a difficult time coming up with a reason, encourage them take a good guess. This should help them to start thinking about the significance of blood tests in general and link it to prior experiences which can enhance the interest level and investment for the remainder of the lesson. It also might be worth asking if they think that medical professionals look for similar results in babies versus young adults. 

b) Engage students in the second conversation prompt on the screen. Instruct them to record their thoughts as a claim. Tell them that they will obtain evidence throughout the lesson and will revisit the claim to defend or restructure it later. Discuss student claims as a class and allow for at least five students to share their thoughts with the class. As students share, encourage them to consider some of their responses from the first question and to factor in aspects of the flow chart (on slide) that were not a part of their original thoughts to build their ideas and make connections. After the discussion is exhausted, share with students that they are going to learn a little more about these screenings and how they are connected to their brain health years later. 

Standards Covered:

HS-LS3-2- Make and defend a claim based on evidence that inheritable genetic variations may result from: (1) new genetic combinations through meiosis, (2) viable errors occurring during replication, and/or (3) mutations caused by environmental factors.

Explore

50 minutes

Section Sequence: 

     In this section of the lesson, my goal is to immerse students in blood testing simulations to excite them through guided inquiry and to prime them to ask questions about why these screenings are necessary. The under-arching goal is to open their minds to PKU as an example of a disease that seamlessly demonstrates how genetics, nutrition and newborn screening tests are interdependent. This activity proceeds as follows: 

a) Slide 2: Read the tasks outlined on the slide and instruct students to complete the listed tasks in Step #1 as presented. After students complete their written portions, ask them: "What is the basis of this early testing? What are medical professionals looking for?" Suggest for students to reference their lab results and recorded responses to aid in the discussion.  

b) Read the tasks associated with Step # 2 on the slide and develop a conversation around the two discussion questions listed after students complete the lab work (Part 2). Discuss the implications of not having a confirmatory test with students. For example, ask how the lack of a confirmatory test might impact a set of parents who believe that their child has PKU after the one initial test.  

c) Instruct for students to return to their initial claims and record any evidences acquired thus far under it that might support their claim. 

FYI: Students responded with a great deal of excitement to this activity. In most cases, they shared that they were blind to this information and were surprised that results from infant-hood could predict long term impacts on an individual. Overall, it was a really positive experience that kept them immersed in the lesson and their minds open to the next wave of information. 

Standards Covered: 

MS-LS3-1Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism.

SP2- Developing and using models.  

Explain

20 minutes

Section Sequence:

      In this section of the lesson, students interact with text using highlighters to codify the systemic contributing factors of PKU and their resulting effects. This creates an alternative to note taking while providing students an opportunity to build on higher level processing skills (classification and identifying cause and effect relationships) simultaneously. This section proceeds as follows:

a) Ask students: "Based on what you learned so far, can you identify any factors that are responsible for the development of or exacerbation of PKU disease? Grant students time (3-5 minutes) to identify and share out factors such as phenylalanine concentration and genetics and how they contribute to PKU. Then, share with them that since one of the twins was diagnosed with PKU that we will learn a little more about the molecular events that dictate the different nutritional requirements of those with PKU (Anna) versus those who do not (Cody). 

b) Slide 3: Read and instruct students to complete the tasks as outlined on the slide. Take the time to clearly define the categories of factors listed at the bottom and to provide generic examples of each so that students are more accurate in their text interactions.  

c) Slide 4: Share with students that they will now use their information regarding PKU to develop a graphic organizer (as seen on the screen) which will attempt to distill the contributing factors and their effects availed in step 1 onto the hierarchical levels of the patient's existence . Proceed to explain the instructions as they appear on the slide. Lead with directing students to illustrate and label the graphic organizer seen in their lab books, while iterating the meaning of each hierarchical level (organ, tissue, etc.). Use the a simplified example of malaria to show students how the graphic organizer works. For example organ (liver failure)-> tissue (breaks down tissue integrity due to lysed cells) -> cellular (parasite reorganizes cytoskeleton) -> molecular level (surface protein interactions between the parasite and host). Finally, instruct them to list at least two-three factors in each bubble and tape their highlighted note sheet inside of their lab books. 

d) Solicit students to present and share the information in their graphic organizers to the rest of the class. 

Standards Covered:

MS-LS3-1Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism.

SP2- Developing and using models.  

Wrap Up!

10 minutes

Section Sequence: 

     In this section of the lesson, my goal is to assess students understanding of PKU via a simple claim and evidence written activity. This activity proceeds as follows: 

a) Slide 4: Read and instruct for students to complete the task as outline on the slide in their lab books. Solicit some students to share their lists with the class. As students share out, ask the class to state any evidences mentioned that support the instructor's stated claim (slide 1). Record these responses on the board under the written claims as students share out. Wrap up by instructing students to modify their claims based on the weights of their two lists. 

Standards Covered:

HS-LS3-2- Make and defend a claim based on evidence that inheritable genetic variations may result from: (1) new genetic combinations through meiosis, (2) viable errors occurring during replication, and/or (3) mutations caused by environmental factors.