Many of the seeds we plant in our gardens today are the products of years of genetic manipulation. From hybridization to genetic engineering, we are constantly trying to improve the characteristics of plants. Gardening provides a great jumping-off point for investigating modern genetics.
Designer Genes: One Size Fits All? ORC #6558
This best practice unit asks students to research genetic engineering and issues related to the risks and benefits of altering agricultural products. Students use their knowledge to create proposals for the town council of Ixtapa and create slide shows, newsletters, or websites to share their opinions and help the members of the council decide whether they want local farmers to plant genetically engineered corn.
Cloning Animal and Plants: Any Difference? ORC #8085
Students explore plant and animal cloning through this promising practice lesson. Students begin the lesson by reading "Animal Cloning: Old MacDonald's Farm Is Not What It Used to Be." Students then develop presentations in which they describe why the cloned animal featured in their presentation is important in the history of animal cloning. Students then engage in plant cloning experiments using Coleus plants. Initially the experiments are guided by the teacher; this is followed by student-designed experiments. When the students have completed this lesson, they will:
- Understand the value of scientific inquiry
- Have a better understanding of how plants and animals are cloned
- Be able to present an informed, yet personal, view on cloning animals and plants
In this lesson, students compare the processes of selective breeding and transgenic manipulation of plants. They consider the pros and cons of growing genetically modified crops. Then they explore the possible future consequences of genetically modified organisms. Finally, they analyze public opinion data about the use of genetically modified foods. As an optional activity, students explore genetics-inspired art and create their own artistic expressions about genetically modified foods.
Genetically Modified Foods: From the Lab to the Dinner Table
This lesson is designed to expose students to the various issues surrounding GMO foods and to help them understand the complexity of the issues surrounding the biotechnology movement. Students will read aloud from two News Hour
pieces, both of which involve a variety of perspectives surrounding the GMO issue. Additionally, students will try to identify GMO foods that they have consumed and discuss the "to label or not to label" debate. At home, students will survey family and/or peers and attempt to identify GMOs they consume on a daily basis. The article entitled "Food Crisis in Zambia" will bring a more global understanding to the issue of GMOs and will get students thinking about biotechnology, globalization, and ethics.
Issues in Genetics
In this lesson, students will examine the pros and cons of GMOs, especially those that we consume. Students will analyze the facts to develop and articulate their own opinions on the matter.
Initially students will review (or learn) what genes are and what their role is in an organism. Students will then learn about the technology available to modify the genes of organisms, specifically food crops. They will investigate why this is being done. Each group will take on an assigned role and research the advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified organisms. They will have to decide whether they favor introducing the technology or not, given their role. This is not a clear-cut decision for any of the roles. The students will then present their opinions and reasons to the class. A wrap-up of all the issues raised and a discussion of the labeling of GMO foods is an appropriate way to end this lesson. The students should understand how complex this issue is and that there are no easy answers. Students should also be led to see how science plays a role in the food they eat and how understanding science allows them to make informed, but not necessarily easy or clear cut, choices.