Mahatma Gandhi named seven social sins; the sixth was practicing "science without humanity." Through the high school science curriculum, students are given the basic building blocks to go forward and study science in college and beyond. At this critical time in students' development of self-concept, students are not offered a comprehensive opportunity to consider science within the context of their own values and universal ethics. In a world where our technological capabilities may be expanding more rapidly than a mutual understanding of human values, asking young people to consider how to use and apply scientific tools is especially relevant. In addition, the traditional high school cannon in science offers no concentrated way of examining ourselves as human beings through the lens of science; most courses take Biology, Genetics, and basic sciences out of the context of relevance to the human experience.
This course provides the academic and research tools for students to examine where they came from through Evolution and Genetics, and to gain knowledge of where they are currently in the global ecosystem. It asks students to examine how their choices effect their bodies, other human beings, and the environment, and how their lives and choices as global citizens can be informed by science. It also poses open-ended questions about how humans choose to use technology. In several rigorous lab sequences, students are exposed by guided practice to advanced tools in Genetics and Environmental Science. After exposure to current research tools and current scientific thinking on human evolution, humans and the environment, humans as observers of the world, uses of technology, and bioethics, students are asked to execute a capstone project to further their learning in an area of their choice.
This course assumes the student has successfully completed a rigorous college preparatory program in the basic sciences (one year of laboratory Chemistry, Physics, and Biology) and is ready to master current research tools in Genetics and Environmental Science.
Textbooks (Chapters as noted in detailed unit descriptions):
Purves Sadava Orians Heller; Life, The Science of Biology, Seventh Edition
G. Tyler Miller, Scott E. Spoolman Living in the Environment, Sixteenth Edition
Robert Jurmain, Lynn Kilgore, Wenda Trevathan and Russell L. Ciochon Introduction to Physical Anthropology
J.Kirk Brown, Biotechnology: A Laboratory Skills Course
Rita Carter, Susan Aldridge, Martin Page, Steve Parker The Human Brain Book
Semester 1: How Science Informs Us On What It Means to be Human, Connecting Science and Technology with Ethics and Philosophy, Laboratory Tools
Unit 1: Human Diseases and Biomedical Engineering
Texts: J.Kirk Brown, Biotechnology: A Laboratory Skills Course. Chapters on Polymerase Chain Reactions, Biotechnology Industrial Processes; Purves and Orians Chapter 16 and 17
History of Medicine
Genetic Diseases (review of molecular genetics and cellular reproduction)
Heart, Lungs, Liver, Kidneys Working Together (review of anatomical systems)
Modern Biotechnology Processes: from Fermentors to CHO cells
Biology of Cancer
The Edge (This is a lecture/discussion left open in each unit for current, recent research topics)
Discussion Forum (with short research projects): Stem Cells and Politics, Tissue Engineering
Lab: Biorad Secrets of the Rainforest Kit: Apply Genetic Engineering to Cure Human Diseases
Includes: Microbiology Techniques, Bacterial Transformation, Chromatography/Separations
Unit 2 :Where We Came From
Text: Robert Jurmain, Lynn Kilgore, Wendy Trevathan and Russell L. Ciochon Introduction to Physical Anthropology
Supplemental Reader: Staffan Ulfstrand, Savannah Lives Jane Goodall, In the Shadow of Man
From African Savannahs to Modern Cities (Intro of Savannah Lives)
Our Hominoid Friends (Physical Anthropology Text Chapter)
The Eve Hypothesis and Mitochondrial DNA: Tracing our Ancestry
The Great Apes, Leakey’s Angels, and The Biology of Culture (Physical Anthropology Text Chapter)
Cognition, Language in Primates (Goodall)
A Primate Family Tree (Goodall)
Discussion Forum: Race, Science, and Culture
Lab: Biorad PV92 PCR Informatics Kit Where did you get those genes? Or similar: Analysis of our ancestry by DNA testing
Unit 3: The Biology of Consciousness, Perception, and Emotion
Text: Purves Sadava Orians Heller; Life, The Science of Biology, Seventh Edition, Chapters 42, 44,
Rita Carter, Susan Aldridge, Martin Page, Steve Parker The Human Brain Book, Chapters 1,2, 5, 6, 10, 11
Supplemental Reader: Arthur Janov, The Biology of Love; Rick Hanson, Buddha’s Brain; John Medina, Brain Rules
A Physical Journey through the Human Brain and What It Does (Carter C1 and 2, Purves and Orians C42)
The Biology of Emotions (Carter C5)
The Social Brain (Carter C6)
Intro to Consciousness, Attention, Sleep, and The Self (Carter C10,11)
Physiology of Drugs and Alcohol
Human Circadian Rhythms and Hormonal Cycles (Purves and Orians C44)
Discussion Forum: Society and the Human Brain, an examination Alzheimers' Disease and the Law
Lab Component: Experimental Design and Human Psychology (Students design and implement a psychology experiment according to interest, to demonstrate their understanding of the scientific method)
Unit 4: Feeding the Human Race
Text: Purves Sadava Orians Heller; Life, The Science of Biology, Seventh Edition
Chapters 46, 49, 50 and G. Tyler Miller, Scott E. Spoolman Living in the Environment, AP Edition Chapter 12
Supplemental Reader: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver; Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
Mammalian Nutrition and Adsorption (Purves and Orians)
Mammalian Digestive Systems (Purves and Orians)
Biology of Hunger and Malnutrition
Humans and Food Animals
World Hunger (Miller)
Discussion Forums: Case Study, Monsanto and Gene Ownership; Case Study, India and Overpopulation; B.Fullers' World Games/Modeling the Distribution of Resources
Lab: Biorad GMO Investigator ® Kit: Have Your Favorite Foods Been Genetically Modified?
Text: G. Tyler Miller, Scott E. Spoolman Living in the Environment, AP Edition Chapters 18, 19, 20
Supplemental Reader: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, A Sand Country Almanac by Aldo Leopold
Biogeography and Ecosystems
History of the Environmental Movement
Climate Change: Is it a Debate? How Scientists Study and Predict Climate Change
Case Study on the Automotive Industry
Science of Pollution: Aquatic Ecosystems
Science of Pollution: Terrestrial Ecosystems
Discussion Forums: Modeling the Kyoto Protocol; Current Local Issue (changes annually)
Series 1: A Field Study of Aquatic Pollution in the Pajaro Watershed
Lab Includes: Field sample collection, secchi disks, aquatic life analysis, spectrophotometric testing for dissolved oxygen (Winkler method), nitrate testing, phosphate testing, coliform testing, chlorine testing
Series 2: STORE: Studying Topography and Orographic Rainfall Using GIS Technology Semester 2: Capstone Project
Students will plan, initiate, execute, and present a study of their own on a research topic that interests them. Their research must include an academically rigorous goal and a list of deliverables. They must incorporate ongoing field or laboratory research into their project design as well as information-gathering, reading, and writing.
Unit 1: Biorad Secrets of the Rainforest Kit (or similar). In this activity, students transform bacteria genetically to produce Green Fluorescent Protein (via a plasmid gene, the pGLO gene). They grow enough of the organism to extract the protein and bottle it, then they write-up a plan for scaling-up the process as if GFP is a novel therapeutic.
Unit 2: DNA extraction for analysis. This lab relates to the study of human evolution by mitochondrial DNA evidence. It also prepares students for the PCR lab in the next unit by guided practice of the first steps toward a successful analysis of GMOs.
Unit 3: Biorad GMO detector kit. Students perform a Polymerase Chain Reaction on a food of their choice to look-for the DNA sequence that is typically inserted in genetically modified food organisms.
Unit 4: Psychology Experiment (student-designed). This unit is related to the brain and consciousness. Students will be asked to design and implement an experiment to answer a question they are interested-in around human psychology; this is to scaffold them for the second semester, when they will be asked to design a more long-term experimental project of their own. The experiment will be assessed for solid use of the scientific method and controls.
Lab Series 1: Students will be taught to sample for Dissolved Oxygen Testing (Winkler Spectrophotometric Method), nitrates, and phosphates, in the school lakes and waterways. They will then test local areas around the Pajaro River Watershed for pollutants and will analyze the data graphically as a class. This is in conjunction with the unit on pollution
Lab Series 2: This is a series developed at SRI called STORE (Studying Topography and Orographic Rainfall). Researchers have compiled data from climate change models into files students can use on Google Earth; students are asked to learn the tool, then make predictions and critical assessments of the data models out to the year 2099, in a study area that includes the Northern California Coast through the Sierra Mountains. Capstone: Students will use their knowledge of all the above lab techniques to design their own rigorous inquiry that involves 1 or more of the tools presented.
1. Laboratory Research Notebook: Students will keep a properly formatted research notebook in which they record all of their laboratory work in accordance with the Scientific Method.
2. Student-Designed Experiments: There is a short experiment in the unit on The Human Brain; students will be asked to design, implement, and analyze their own psychology experiment. They will be asked to present their results to the class.
3. Reading Reactions: Students will keep a journal of their reading assignments that will include short reaction papers, outlines of assigned chapters, and discussion questions that allow them to think critically about the texts.
4. Research and Reaction for Discussion Forums: Students will research topics prior to discussion forums. Their research will be kept in their reading journals. They will also write 1-2 pages in reaction to the discussion forum after it happens.
5. Capstone Project: During the Second Semester, students will independently move-on to study a topic that captured their interest from what was presented first semester. They will design a timeline and goals for themselves, submitted in writing, and a list of "deliverables" that they will use to show what they have learned over the project. The project will be designed in collaboration with the teacher and must include an inquiry using the scientific method; this may be laboratory, field, or technologically-based. Possible deliverables or goals include a live presentation to the school community, creation of a website or blog about the project, a collection of writings and poster detailing research and findings, creative pieces inspired by learning around the project, or establishment of a legacy with measureable impact to the school or greater community. Within these possibilities, the student is required to show use of the scientific method and significant academic research and learning.
The cross-curricular and rigorous nature of the course requires use of multiple and differentiated instructional methods, including access to GIS data and software for each student concurrently (computer lab), Ipad/Tablet applications in Genetics and Biochemistry along-with hands-on model kits so that students solidify their understanding of molecular genetics, lecture with visual aids to illustrate and enliven topics, and sufficient lab time and equipment so that each student can execute the Biotechnology and Field Environmental Science practices for the first two units. In addition, instruction includes one or more discussion forums or debates in each unit to give students time to formulate and solidify their thoughts on how science informs public policy, how humans use science, and how choices they make effect the environment.
The course reader samples from a variety of traditional AP-Level textbooks in conjunction with popular science readings. This is so that students who are almost ready to move-on to college can begin scaffolding their thought processes to integrate solid academic learning in the traditional cannon with cutting-edge ideas and current events.
Students will keep a journal of their readings and research, and they will keep their reactions and developing thoughts and ideas in reaction to discussions sessions in the same journal. In addition, they will keep a traditional laboratory research journal. The strategy is to allow students a creative outlet and a way to incorporate themselves as observers into the course, as well as to become refined practitioners of the scientific method and controlled experimentation in response to their own creative inquiry.
Unit 1 Assessment
Lab Practical (successful bacterial transformation and extraction of GFP); course goal to provide modern technological tools
Written Test (Short Answer) To assess student understanding of biotech processes, basic toxicology, biology of diseases, history, and stem cells/politics
Lab Practical (Successful completion of PCR)
Written Assessment: Mapping the Eve/Out-of-Africa path of mDNA evidence, Matching to assess student understanding of Hominoid ancestors and primates, Short Answer to assess understanding at synthesis-level of the context of human evolution prior to the modern era
Matching to assess student knowledge of the physical anatomy of the brain and functions
Essay-assessment: students must recount the physical processes in their brain and body that they have undergone throughout the day, week, or month (a timeline of their own consciousness and the biological processes occurring). This one question allows synthesis of most or all of the information and understandings in the unit.
Written Assessment: Short essay to assess physical understanding of human digestion and malnutrition (trace the path and "life" of food as it travels through the system of a well-fed person and a poorly-fed person, compare).
Team-based activity: Students are in teams and are given scenarios that allow them to use and display their knowledge of world hunger (for example, they might be the new leaders of a food-poor country like Somalia and present strategies to feed the populace). Takes 2 hours, 1.5 to design a presentation, and 0.5 to present
Lab practical: Successful completion of PCR and Electrophoresis
Team-Based Exam: Students will be assigned to teams and given roles to play in a political strategy situation involving an environmental issue. Test requires a double (2 hour) period; 1.5 hours to develop a strategy and presentation of information and ideas, .5 hours to present. Examples are having a team expose the issues behind opening a new coal-based power-plant along the coast in California, and propose an alternative. This strategy will allow teams to integrate topics of pollution, humans and the environment, and thoughts about technology use.
Capstone Project: Students will be assessed on adherence to their own goals, the rigor of their critical thought and analysis, thoroughness of their research, and use of the scientific method in their experiments.