This lesson extends student learning beyond the minimum expectations of the NGSS. Why is it important to understand cells and heredity? Exposing students to current issues and debates in genetics, especially regarding cloning and stem cells, helps students connect their learning to the real world.
Additionally there are so many misconceptions about cloning. The movies perpetuate student misconceptions by having clones appear to be exact duplicates and the same age as the donor when they are reproduced.
The NSTA WebNews Digest has a great article sharing media examples of cloning myths.
This lesson extends student thinking just beyond the sexual and asexual reproduction by helping them understand the topic of cloning. In addition to understanding the science of sexual and asexual reproduction students are engaged in the exploration of the controversy of cloning. (MS-LS3-2 - Develop and use a model to describe why asexual reproduction results in offspring with identical genetic information and sexual reproduction results in offspring with genetic variation.)
Cloning is often misrepresented in the media especially in movies or television shows that target our middle school student audience. Student are exploring reproduction via cloning and examining the evidence by learning about the facts and myths surround this controversial topic. (SP7 - Engage in argument from evidence.)
I share with students that the first cloned animal was produced in 1952 using tadpoles. This is a surprise to students who have often heard about Dolly the sheep and assumed that the sheep was the first cloned animal produced in 1997.
What exactly is cloning? There is a long pause before a student volunteers an answer. A clone is a copy of the original. How does cloning happen? Student are stumped. Does the movie Jurassic Park represent an accurate possibility of cloning dinosaurs? Students express they are not certain.
I ask why are scientists interested in exploring cloning? Students are uncertain and provide no good scientific explanation for the exploration of cloning. I silently realize that this is a good lesson for my students.
I explain that cloning uses a single cell from an adult to grow a new organism that is identical to the individual who donated the cell.
Today we will be completing a web quest to learn about cloning. You will explore different cloning techniques, some history of cloning and what are the potential uses of cloning.
Your goal in completing this web quest is to be in a position to understand the conversation or news story about cloning. You should understand the basic vocabulary used to discuss cloning.
After researching the basics of both stem cells and cloning (Stem Cells or Cloning - You are the Expert), you will pick one of the topics in which you will become an expert. You will understand more than just the basics, you will be able to explain the topic to someone else.
This video highlights the engaging activities for students that are part of the web quest.
Research and technology has given scientists the ability to clone. But just because we can do something should we?
I explain to students that I do not expect them to debate this issue, only to understand that their learning will provide the information they need to be informed decisions makers as adults.
It is important that you always ask the next question and use your knowledge of science to lead to you making an informed decision. There are many myths still be portrayed about cloning in movies. Next time you see a clone in a movie think about the scientific accuracy of the movie.