This is the final part of the unit project and requires students to explain the science that will be applied to quicken and direct human evolution. Students have already completed lessons in which they learned about cloning and GMOs. I begin this lesson by having students respond to the prompts:
Students discuss with their lab groups and record their answers in their journal.
I attempt to incorporate as much writing as I can so students have as much practice as possible prior to moving on to high school. This project is too repetitive to make good presentations (many students identified similar adaptations to the ecosystems) so it makes more sense to include a written explanation.
Note: When it comes to the student explanation of GMO, I am only looking for a basic understanding of the concept, not for the identification of specific genes (honestly, students did not create humans that were at all practical but that was not the point). Students should explain that a genetically modified organism is one whose DNA has been "rewritten", either by removing or adding in genes. They should identify the traits that have been added or removed from their human.
The rest of the paragraph should identify that the use of reproductive cloning will be used to make many copies of their prototype human, artificial selection of the best organisms will continue to add desired traits into the population until natural selection takes over to keep the most beneficial traits within the population.
To conclude this lesson I ask students to express their thoughts on the following question:
Do you think it is ever ok to cross ethical lines for the greater good? (Is it ok to do something that would be considered wrong by society if you think ultimately it saves society?) Explain why or why not.
I particularly like this question because so much of genetic technology is surrounded by ethical dilemmas. Students recognize the potential of the science but something makes them uncomfortable about it - this shines a small light on the cause of some of that unease.