Striding into the Scientific Future - Biology Lessons


Big Idea
Clinical trials play an integral role in advancing our understanding and innovative treatment of medical concerns. Understanding how clinical trials work is essential to follow the current topics in healthcare, as is a grasp of the underlying principles of the topic being studied. Skin cancer, its prevention and its treatment are all current areas being investigated and are personally relevant to students.
Essential Question
What do clinical trials do to support the development of medical treatments? What is skin cancer? How are clinical trials being used to address skin cancer?
Learning Cycle
Lesson Title & Description
Students will:
Class period & week

Clinical Trials: An Introduction
Faced with a scenario, students discuss the need for clinical trials and are introduced to the trials that they will present in the Explain lesson.

1. Identify the major steps in clinical trials

2. Articulate why we need clinical trials

3. Develop questions about the description of a particular study

1 class period

Sun, Skin and the Cancer.
Students participate in a number of hands-on exercises that explore the skin anatomy, what cancer is, and the relationship between UV radiation and cancer. Includes a yeast experiment as well as use of computer animation.

1. Describe basic skin anatomy

2. Describe what cancer is in terms of cell development

3. Use an example to explain the relationship between UV radiation and cancer

4. Differentiate among 3 types of skin cancer

4 Class Periods

New Trials & Findings
Group reading of skin cancer research articles and presentation to class of findings and current state of research.

1. Use background knowledge to summarize articles about skin cancer research and present to class

2. Place their studies along a clinical study timeline.

3 Days

Subject Selection
Self directed inquiry into elements affecting UV exposure and devising of clinical research plan. Poster presentation of results to class in museum walk.

1. Devise (in groups) an inquiry into elements affecting UV exposure.

2. Create an extension of their results appropriate for a clinical study.

3. Present results in poster format for a museum walk.

6 Class Periods

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PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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