Animal Research and Nicotine Toxicity

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Objective

Students will explain why animal models are utilized in research to predict the behavior of nerve cells in humans in response to nicotine.

Big Idea

Animal models are used to produce reliable data which predict the responses of humans to nicotine in the body.

Introduction

Lesson Background & Justification:

    The term animal testing is used here to refer to all research using animals, including "basic research" that does not involve the testing of a product. For some time, it has served as a controversial subject wherein proponents see the benefits to advance in human health, without sacrificing human subjects and opponents view it as inhumane. Nonethless, it is important that students understand the biological significance of garner data from animal subjects. In this lesson, students gain an appreciation for the benefits of animal research and gain a stronger sense of why we are electing to use animals in the final project to gain valid and applicable data.

Prerequisite Knowledge: It is recommended that students be familiar with the structure and function of a neuron, the concept of neurotransmission, the action potential mechanism, metabolic process of cellular respiration, structure and function of DNA,  enzyme structure and function and organelle function. 

Connection to the End of Year Student Research Project: This lesson has been inserted upstream of student research project execution to satisfy the two following objectives:

1) Help to elucidate the need for model organisms in the investigation process that they will pursue.

2) Expose students to the chemical nature and physiological effects of nicotine in organisms so that they are able to develop research questions and hypothesis for their research projects if they elect this chemical over their other options of BPA, or Heavy Metals. (See Attachments for Student Brainstorming Ideas)

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's Use of Animals for Medical Testing (1 copy of the student lab per student pair) 

b) Student lab books.

Common Core and NGSS Standards:

SP1- Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering).

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

SP4- Analyzing and interpreting data.

MS-LS1-3-Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells. 

HS-LS1- Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.

XC-SSM-HS-4- Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in 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 (animals in research.)  

Engage

10 minutes

Section Sequence:

a) Slide 1: Ask students: "Do you think that nicotine can be used as weapon? That is, do you think that something that is so commonly used in mainstream America has the potential to be gravely dangerous to humans?" Allow students to express their opinions. Then, share with students that there is such a case that nicotine has been identified as a weapon of choice. Add that they should watch the following program overview and consider how it might support any of their conclusions. Play the following:

       

b) Post video, re-ask the question in step a and prompt students to share how, if so the video clip impacted their views. 

c) Share with students that nicotine poisonings are on the rise and has become a concern for our society. Then play the following video to give the students further insight to this issue:

        

d) Finally ask: "How do you think we have gone about and should to continue to go about learning more about the extent of nicotine's dangers on humans?" Allow students to contribute to the discussion via volunteer responses. 

Standards Covered:

SP1- Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering).

Explore and Explain

60 minutes

Section Sequence:

        In this section of the lesson, students are prescribed a set of tasks that builds their comprehension in the area of animal research. They are specifically charged with sequencing events that illustrate how nicotine/nicotine blockers interact with nicotine receptors in the brain and executing a battery of simulations which are intended to elucidate genetic, cellular and organ similarities and differences in a host of organisms that could potentially utilized as models for human brain studies. This section progress as follows:                      

Slide 2:

a) Share with students that they will embark on a set of tasks that will aim to address the last question posed: How do you think we have gone about and should to continue to go about learning more about the extent of nicotine's dangers on humans?. Continue to share that scientist are investigating novel drugs to subdue individual's addiction to nicotine and that in order to do so must use an ideal model that mimics human neuro-anatomy and neuro-physiology close enough to substantiate a claim about the drug's abilities. 

b) Step 1: Instruct students partner pairs to obtain the Science Take Out's Use of Animals for Medical Testing an Animal's bagged kit. Share that they will simulate the research process via the exploration of NicoBlock, a fictional drug in the effort to gain an appreciation for what undertakings are necessary to evaluate the dangers of nicotine as examined in the videos. 

c) Step 2: Announce to the class that they will first take the opportunity to gain a little bit of background on how nicotine impacts the human brain so that they can gain a stronger appreciation for why we select specific animals for research studies. Play the following video and instruct students to take notes as it progresses:

                          

d) Step 3: Introduce the first task and then grant students 5-7 minutes to complete it. Post activity instruct a student group or two to summarize/paraphrase for the class how Nicoblock is proposed to work independent of their completed work product.  

e) Step 4: Instruct students to complete tasks 1-6 from their packages and to record their responses in their lab books. Encourage students to verbally summarize the results of their completed tasks to you as you circulate around the class to monitor their progress.             

e) Step 6: Facilitate the discussion and encourage at least 1-3 students to share their summaries and ask if other class members echo their responses to reinforce and iterate specific items (eg molecular evidence, binding affinities of drug, etc.). Bring the conversation full circle by resurfacing the initial question of How do you think we have gone about and should to continue to go about learning more about the extent of nicotine's dangers on humans?

Standards Covered:

SP1- Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering).

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

SP4- Analyzing and interpreting data.

MS-LS1-3-Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells. 

HS-LS1- Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.

XC-SSM-HS-4- Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models.  

Extend

10 minutes

Section Sequence:

       In this section, students engage in an activity that intend to provoke them to consider potential limiting factors that may hinder or help society learn more about how nicotine impacts the brain and body. This section proceeds as follows:

a) Slide 3: Ask students: Do you think that there might be any limiting factors that might prevent us from learning more about the dangers of nicotine and/or how to prevent its addiction as we have examined thus far? Take responses from the group (at least from 4-5 students) and prompt them to further clarify if they believe that these may potential reasons that we may are oblivious to its dangers. 

b) Instruct students to complete tasks as displayed on the slide. During the discussion part, probe students with clarifying and leading questions so that they bring their thoughts full circle (encompassing specifics from the lab in conjunction with their personal opinions). For example, you might ask if it were not for animals, how might this  limit our progress in understanding the dangers of nicotine in human system?

Standards:

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

SP4- Analyzing and interpreting data.

Evaluate

10 minutes

Section Sequence:

a) Slide 4: Instruct students to read the passage "Use of Animals for Medical Testing?" in part 6 of the lab.

b) Instruct them to record statements on the pros and cons side of the of the t table. Allow students to add statements until all students have had the opportunity to record a response on the board. Encourage the class  to build their lists based on the reading and lab experiences.

Standards:

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

XC-SSM-HS-4- Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models.