"Just because we can, should we?"

Just because we can, should we?
DURATION: 1 term (10 weeks)
The importance of diversity
What it means to be human
Making ethical decisions
  • What kind of future do we want?
  • Are humans shaping their own evolution?
  • Do we intervene too much in our environment?
  • How much control should science have over nature?
  • What does it mean to be human?
  • Inheritance- the role of Genes, Chromosomes, DNA
  • Natural selection and variation
  • Human Cloning

VELS Level 6
Science Knowledge and Understanding
  • Students explain change in terms of energy in a range of biological, chemical and physical contexts.
  • They explain the role of DNA and genes in cell division and genetic inheritance.
Science at Work
  • Describe the science base of science-related occupations in their local community.
  • They use the relevant science concepts and relationships as one dimension of debating contentious and/or ethically based science-related issues of broad community concern.
  • They demonstrate an awareness of the ways in which scientific vocabulary is used incorrectly in the mass media, distinguishing between the intended meaning of such terms and their meaning in non-scientific contexts
  • They provide two examples of the work of scientists that demonstrate different approaches to developing scientific knowledge or solving a scientific problem.
English - Reading

  • They read, view, analyse and discuss a wide range of informative and persuasive texts and identify the multiple purposes for which texts are created.
  • They explain how texts are shaped by the time, place and cultural setting in which they are created.
  • They also read, view, analyse and discuss a wide range of informative and persuasive texts and identify the multiple purposes for which texts are created.

English - Writing
* They write persuasive texts dealing with complex ideas and issues and control the linguistic structures and features that support the presentation of different perspectives on complex themes and issues.
  • They select subject matter and begin to use a range of language techniques to try to position readers to accept particular views of people, characters, events, ideas and information.

English - Speaking and Listening

  • When engaged in discussion, they compare ideas, build on others’ ideas, provide and justify other points of view, and reach conclusions that take account of aspects of an issue.
  • In their presentations, they make effective use of the structures and features of spoken language to deal with complex subject matter in a range of situations.
  • They draw on a range of strategies to listen to and present spoken texts, including note-taking, combining spoken and visual texts, and presenting complex issues or information imaginatively to interest an audience.


  • Discriminate in the way they use a variety of sources.
  • They generate questions that explore perspectives
  • They process and synthesise complex information and complete activities focusing on problem solving and decision making which involve a wide range and complexity of variables and solutions.
  • They employ appropriate methodologies for creating and verifying knowledge in different disciplines.
  • They make informed decisions based on their analysis of various perspectives and, sometimes contradictory, information.

Interpersonal Learning

  • Work collaboratively, negotiate roles and delegate tasks to complete complex tasks in teams.
  • Working with the strengths of a team
  • they achieve agreed goals within set timeframes.
  • Students describe how they respect and build on the ideas and opinions of team members and clearly articulate or record their reflections on the effectiveness of learning in a team.
  • They develop and implement strategies for improving their contributions to achieving team goals.


ENGAGE Tuning In
Learning Goals
  • To investigate the extent to which science fiction is becoming science fact.
  • To determine the impact of scientific advances on human life.
  • To develop a personal opinion on the ethical nature of these scientific advances.
Prior Learning
  • Student thoughts about how they see the future – 10, 20, 50 years from now.
  • Knowledge of scientific advances in technology and medicine currently being debated in the media.
  • Begin a Mind Map with key terms from Genetics. Students brainstorm key terms they know from general knowledge and from viewing Gattaca. (e.g. chromosomes, DNA, gene, inheritance)

What is a mind map?
Student Questions
3 Level of questions – Literal, Inferential and implied or evaluative.
Students generate questions about what they need to know to understand more about Gattaca- prompt questions about genetics.
Immersion Activities

  • Watching film Gattaca with tuning in questions.
  • Use of Gattaca to generate student questions about Genetics
  • Discussion questions :
What kind of future do we want?
* Are humans shaping their own evolution?
  • Do we intervene too much in our environment?
  • How much control should science have over nature?
  • What does it mean to be human?

Reading chapters 1&2 of Brave New World.

EXPLORE Finding Out

Planned Learning Activities
Exploring Inherited Traits
Some activities include:

Making a Karyotype

Chromosomes, DNA and Genes

Jigsaw reading and sharing of articles – reciprocal reading.
GM foods, Gene Technology, Genetic Testing and Cloning newspaper articles (jigsaw activity)

Graphic Organisers/ ICT tools
Making a Karyotype

  • Online example of a Karyotype
  • Making a Karyotype- interactive version:

Chromosomes, DNA and Genes
  • DNA zoom. Zoom in on a human to see the DNA.
  • What are chromosomes? (see a real set of chromosomes under the microscope online)

Cell Cycle and Cell Division:
  • Cell Cycle Game: Control of the Cell Cycle. An interactive game where students learn about the steps in the cell cycle.
  • The Cell Cycle and Mitosis tutorial
  • Mitosis tutorial, animation and quiz
  • Mitosis in a simple animal cell with one pair of chromosomes:
  • Mitosis (comparison of real cell with animation)
  • Meiosis tutorial:
  • Meiosis in a simple animal cell with one pair of chromosomes:
  • Meiosis tutorial, animation and quiz

Gene Technology:
  • Human uses of Biotechnology (Gene Therapy, Cloning, Stem Cells)

  • Mind Map of key Genetics terms can be developed as students explore.
How to Mind Map
What is a Mind Map?

(Teacher’s version of summary diagram- two pairs of chromosomes ).
(Teacher’s version of summary diagram- one pair of chromosome )

EXPLAIN Sorting Out

Processing Information
Cell Cycle and Cell Division

Genetic Crosses

Focused Learning
  • Explicit teaching using an analogy for genes, chromosomes and DNA with woollen stripy jumper. (The chromosome is the jumper, consisting of interwoven wool and bands of colour. The wool is the DNA. If you unravel the jumper from the bottom, the woollen thread can be obtained. Unravel for a while and you have thread of one colour, from one band of the jumper. This represents one gene. When the woollen thread changes to another colour, from another band, you have another gene)
  • Gene / DNA analogy: A Spool of Thread
  • Explicit teaching of terminology such as; dominant, recessive, heterozygous, homozygous through use of board work. Genetics Terms.
  • Mitosis and Meiosis: Physical models for demonstration and explanation

Link to Prior Learning

Encourage students to ask questions throughout to link to other topics in Genetics. Students often have a lot of questions about topics like twins, forensic science and genetic engineering/gene technology.
Students continue to construct a mind map of their understanding of key terms: genes, DNA, chromosomes, characteristics, proteins, heterozygous, homozygous, dominant, recessive.

Student Collaboration
* Share learning. Method decided by group and teacher.
* Jigsaw reading and sharing of articles – reciprocal reading (jigsaw activity).
GM foods
Support Grows for GM Food
Frankenstein Food beats Starvation
GM concerns continue to crop up
Gene Technology
Gene Therapy makes vital leap
Genetic Testing
Spit samples
Therapeutic Cloning
Cloning Research Benefits
No Path to Find Cure All
Plan to Clone Woman’s Pet Dog

ELABORATE Going Further

Generalising Understanding
Argumentative Essay using knowledge gained and expressing a point of view on area investigated.

Real life examples of ethical genetics case studies - group work activities. Students/teachers could use Genetics and Ethics sheet to assist in the ethical decision making process .

Who or what would you clone? Students line up on a “human continuum” from strongly agree to strongly disagree and have to justify why they are standing at the point they are.

Apply and Transfer
Personal Learning Project
Exploring the Essential Question “Just because we can, should we?”

Small groups of students choose a topic area of interest and method of presentation (performance of understanding).
Suggestions for appropriate topic areas include:
  • Gene Therapy
  • Designer Babies
  • Genetically Modified Food
  • Reproductive Cloning
  • Genetic Testing (screening for conditions)
  • Stem Cells
  • Prenatal testing
  • Creating Transgenic Organisms
Teacher Resources about Genetics Ethical Issues:
Ethical Issues in Human Genetics
Top 10 Issues related to the Brave New World of Genetics

English – Read another Science Fiction book
English – Engage in a debate about an ethical issue around genetics
Science – Design an experiment
Science – Explore an aspect of Gene Technology with an ethical issue associated
  • Gene Therapy
  • Designer Babies
  • Stem Cells
  • Cloning
Clone your favourite dog – interactive activity
Clone a Tasmanian Tiger – interactive activity
  • Genetic Testing
  • Transgenic Organisms
Science – research into work of a scientist
Art – Research Artists
Art – Produce a piece of Art work inspired by artists
Sport – Investigate designer athletes
Psychology – The Nature v/s nurture debate
Technology – Alternate fuels
Technology – Alternate energy sources for cars

EVALUATE Making Conclusions, Taking Action

Student Reflection
Genetics Capacity Matrix: students use this to monitor the development of their understandings of key concepts in Genetics. They complete this regularly throughout the unit.

Performances of Understanding
Student Performance of Understanding needs to address the essential question “Just because we can, should we?” from the context they investigated.
Students Performance of Understanding could be; a debate, a role play, a work of art, a Powerpoint presentation, an oral presentation, a news report, an animation.

Monitoring and Tracking
The Genetics Capacity Matrix is also used to track student depth of understanding of key Genetics concepts. Students must provide evidence of understanding each of the key concepts through activities and learning tasks undertaken..

Cloning sites and literature

DNA interactive
(more in-depth Genetics. Have audio visual, animations and interactive activities)

Poster on Cloning
POLT Principle 1: Supportive and productive learning environment:
c 1.1
builds positive relationships with & between students
c 1.2
promotes a culture of value and respect
c 1.3
uses strategies that promote students' self-confidence and willingness to take risks
c 1.4
each student experiences success with support
Principle 2: The learning environment promotes independence, interdependence and self motivation:
c 2.1
encourages and supports students to take responsibility for their learning
c 2.2
uses strategies that build skills of productive collaboration
Principle 3: Students' needs, backgrounds, perspectives and interests are reflected in the learning program:
c 3.1
uses flexible strategies that are responsive to the values, needs and interests of individuals
c 3.2
strategies support different ways of thinking & learning
c 3.3
builds on students' prior experiences, knowledge and skills
c 3.4
capitalises on experiences of a technology rich world.
Principle 4: Students are challenged and supported to develop deep levels of thinking and application:
c 4.1
plans sequenced activities that emphasise connections
c 4.2
promotes substantive discussion of ideas
c 4.3
emphasises high expectations of achievement
c 4.4
strategies challenge/support students to question & reflect
c 4.5
strategies to develop investigating and problem solving skills
Principle 5: Assessment practices are an integral part of teaching and learning:
c 5.1
designs assessment practices that reflect the full range of learning program objectives
c 5.2
ensures that students receive frequent constructive feedback that supports further learning
c 5.3
makes assessment criteria explicit
c 5.4
uses assessment practices that encourage reflection and self assessment
c 5.5
uses evidence from assessment to inform planning and teaching.
Principle 6: Learning connects with communities:
c 6.1
students engage with contemporary knowledge & practice
c 6.2
students to interact with local and broader communities
c 6.3
use technologies to reflect professional and community practices.