The M & M Study

Author: Sylvia Kniest

Time: 1 class period
Prepare M & M study
Create student survey
Read an Introduction to Clinical Trials
Materials: Large bag of M & M’s
Dixie cups (one for each student)
Survey on clinical trials


Students will discuss and understand the need for biomedical research and government regulations

Students will be able to:
1. Identify a clinical trial.
2. Explain the importance of clinical trials.
3. Describe the role of citizens in clinical trials.

National Standards For Civics and Government
V-B What are the rights of citizens?
V-E How can citizens take part in civic life?

Teacher Background
Prepare a survey on clinical trials using the website: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ or use the sample survey attached to the lesson.

Resource Websites
http://clinicaltrials.gov/ : government website for clinical trials
http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct/info/resources website on introduction to clinical trials



Activity - ( Warm Up)
1. Place a small amount of M & Ms in Dixie cups (one for each student); leave the red M & Ms out of a few of the Dixie cups.

2. At the beginning of the class have each student pick a cup of M & Ms off of the table as they walk into the room at the beginning of the period.

3. Announce to the class that they are taking part in a scientific study. Do not answer any questions about the study.

4. Tell the students that they should record the amount and color of the M & Ms that they have.

5. After they have finished recording their M & Ms tell the students that they may now eat them.

6. After the students have finished eating the M & Ms:

a. Ask, how many of you ate one or more RED M & Ms?
b. Tell the students who’ve raise their hands - you have just participated in a study to determine the side effects of red dye on humans.

7. Have a discussion where students share their reactions to the announcement. Could this happen in real life? Why or why not?

Have student meet in groups of 2 – 3 to brainstorm the following questions:
1. What is a clinical trial?

2. Why participate in a clinical trial?

3. What are the benefits and risks of participating in a clinical trial?

4. Where do the ideas for trials come from?

Have a class discussion where students share their answers from their brainstorming session.
Use the information from the website: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct/info/resources to lead the discussion and provide feedback to the students’ responses.

Ask students: Why should we be interested in clinical trials? How might clinical trials relate to government?

Pass out the survey on clinical trials and have students bring the completed surveys to class the following day.
Use the sample survey or create your own using the website: http://clinicaltrials.gov/


INSTRUCTIONS: Check the following medical conditions below that you or someone you know has experienced.

__ Allergies          __ Acne           __ Common Cold    __ Rheumatoid Arthritis
__ Osteoarthritis   __ Hepatitis      __ Diabetes            __ Measles
__ Lupus              __ Melanoma    __ Anemia             __ Leukemia
__ Lymphoma       __ Hay Fever    __ Hearing Loss     __ Heart Disease
__ Gum Disease   __ Mumps        __ Cancer              __ AIDs
__ Alzheimer’s      __ Parkinson’s

1. The medical conditions listed above are a few of the many clinical trials that are currently being done in the United States. In a paragraph describe the significance of clinical trials on health care in America and the role you believe the government should have (if any). Be prepared to defend your position in class.



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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