Lesson Plan: Complex Questions for Science and Society
Engage students in a discussion about how society's approach to medical treatment and research has changed over the last 1000 years. On the chalkboard, write "Medical treatment and research: In ancient times ...., but today ...." Give students a few minutes to work in pairs to compose sentences that highlight changes in practices and beliefs. Invite students to share their sentences.
Outline the Opportunity
Have students visit the topic Chasing a Cure for Diabetes on the CBC
Digital Archives website and view the clips titled "Banting and Best develop
the 'miracle drug'", "The drinkable cure?", "The rising cost of insulin" and
"Paying for the Edmonton Protocol".
Divide the class into groups and have each group prepare a skit that explores the complex science, technology, and society questions we are facing today. Encourage students to compare practices and beliefs in the past with the issues that have emerged in the 21st century. Students may choose to present a television program, a debate among colleagues, a government hearing, and so on. They may also wish to assume the roles of specific people in the past or present.
Revisit and Reflect
Allow students to present their skits. After the presentations, lead a class discussion. Ask students what questions were raised and why people might disagree on the "right" answers to these questions. Ask students if they think it would be difficult to reach a consensus on the "right" answers: in their class, in their community, in Canada, and globally. Invite suggestions for how individuals can be informed and involved in complex questions about science, technology, and society.
Students can review the clips on the topic Chasing a Cure for Diabetes on the CBC Digital Archives website and compose a short survey of several key questions that cover controversial topics related to modern diabetes treatment and research. Some examples are: Do you think Canadian researchers should sidestep Canadian laws for ethical medical research by trying their ideas in developing countries? Do you think that human trials should be allowed before a therapy has been shown effective and safe on animals over an extended period of time? Should animals be used in medical research? The class might decide on what population it wishes to survey, such as fellow students, people with a university education, or people over 40 years of age. Have each student poll five people, and then pool the results. Let students comment on results that they find surprising, troubling, or encouraging.