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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: Featuring Science

Type: Webquest
Subjects: Science, English Language Arts
Grades: Grades 6-8
Duration: 3 to 5 lessons
Purpose: To examine the nature of scientific inquiry and discovery
Summary: Using a variety of web-based resources, students will write a newspaper article that illustrates how the discovery of insulin by Banting and Best is an example of the true nature of scientific discovery and inquiry.


Are you a scientist? Do you believe that all scientists work in a lab, are male, wear glasses and a lab coat, and are surrounded by millions of dollars of equipment? Probably not. These are not the conditions in which Charles Best and Frederick Banting were working when they discovered insulin. So what is common to all scientific inquiry? Scientists always follow a scientific method, have a well-formulated hypothesis, and work through their experiment in a linear fashion. If they're lucky, there is also a "eureka" moment when they are done.

The Task

Present the following situation to students:

The local newspaper has seconded your research team to write a newspaper article that illustrates how the discovery of insulin by Banting and Best is an example of the true nature of scientific discovery and inquiry. Some questions that you may use to guide you in your research are:

Under what conditions did Banting and Best work?

Were Banting and Best research scientists?

What type of financial support did Banting and Best receive for their work?

Were their results welcomed, unquestioned, by the scientific community?

Did people believe and trust their results?

Each group will produce a newspaper article that addresses how the discovery of insulin is an example of the true nature of scientific inquiry and discovery.

The Process

Students will begin by researching the nature of scientific inquiry and discovery. To do this, they will look at the way scientists work, what a scientist looks like, who is a scientist, and what procedures or methods scientists follow in their discovery. They can start their search with the topic Chasing a Cure for Diabetes on the CBC Digital Archives website the clips titled:

"Banting and Best develop the 'miracle drug'", "Egos and ownership", "Remembering Charles Best", "The long life of Ted Ryder...", "Brawls and bust-ups in the Banting and Best lab," "The Biography of Frederick Banting," and "Scientist, national hero, father - Frederick Banting".

Students will view the material from different perspectives. One student will research the way scientists work (scientific methodology). A second group member will look at who scientists are and what they look like. A third group member will research the tentative nature of scientific discovery, while a fourth group member gathers information on financial support for scientific discovery.

Students can expand their research to include other online sources. Remind them to examine the information from the perspective of the role they are assuming. Caution students to evaluate any of the sites they are viewing as some sites may have their own agenda; therefore the information provided may be skewed to perpetuate a cause or opinion.

Once students have gathered the information, they should present it to their group. Within the group, students must come to a consensus regarding the position they will take in their newspaper article. As a group, they can write their article.


Students will present their newspaper article to the class, who will represent the general public. Students should be prepared to ask and answer questions.

Assessment Tip
Assess students on the accuracy of the information presented in their article and for the appropriateness of how they compare the nature of scientific inquiry as it is often portrayed with how it actually occurred in the Banting/Best story.