-have students gain an understanding of DNA: structure, function, applications
-have students learn lab skills such as bacterial culturing, recombinant DNA, etc.
Understanding of these topics is becoming more and more important by the day. You can open a newspaper every day and find an article that refers to DNA, recombinant DNA, cloning, or other related topics. Oftentimes, the general public has a lot of misconceptions about many of the hot topics in biology, simply because they do not have the knowledge base necessary to understand the topics fully. Having an understanding of the topics, as well as an understanding of how the process is done will help students to develop informed opinions.
-have students learn about the process of science through an inquiry project
Since many of the students in this biotech class are planning to go to college to get degrees in some sort of scientific field, it’s important for them to realize how science is actually done. The great thing about using a tool like Biology Workbench for Students is that it is a simplified version of the Biology Workbench used by scientists for conducting their research. This means that the students really get a chance to experience science in a very authentic way, giving them some very useful research experience.
Also, inquiry helps the students develop important life skills that anyone will find useful in day to day life, whether they end up in a career that is based around science or they end up in a career that has almost nothing to do with science. Learning through inquiry teaches the students how to develop their own questions, and how to explore those questions and find possible solutions. A skill like this can be important in everyone’s everyday problem solving.
-bring in social issues/politics associated with science through discussion of AIDS epidemic
Most students, at least in high school, never really realize that science doesn’t occur in isolation from the rest of the world. In school, science is often studied as its own entity, without influence from the politics that are present in the rest of the world.
When going over the history of HIV, it becomes very clear that politics played a huge role in the way the epidemic unfolded. Many people have speculated that if it had begun in a group other than the gay community the epidemic would have received much more attention earlier on and as a result, the problem may not have grown to such huge proportions. This unit gives me a good opportunity to talk about issues like this and to bring to the students’ attention how much of a role politics plays in science. I also think that addressing issues such as homophobia is really important, because these sorts of attitudes are still very prevalent, both in school and in the world outside of school. I’m sure there are students in the classroom who either are homosexual, or have a friends or family members who are homosexual, and discussing the discrimination that surrounds homosexuals can help validate their struggles.