Unit Theme / Problem / Project: Lactose Intolerance from a Social Justice Perspective
Unit’s Essential Questions:
· What injustice is promoted and perpetuated by science and society related lactose intolerance?
· How can we collectively design and implement a solution?
· How can we use scientific and action research to improve health and justice in our communities?
Key Vocabulary / Concepts: lactose, lactase, lactose intolerance, lactase persistence, mutation, gene, allele, enzyme, active site, activation energy, enzyme specificity, types of bias, scientific method, action research, research tools
Why Start with Social Justice? Why not get right into the biology?
Even though it is important for students to learn and understand about enzymes in their biology curriculum it is important to catch their interest and that they understand why the science is important to learn. Rather than front loading the unit with a great deal of scientific information about enzymes, you want to start with the social context to generate student interest and get the YPAR started. This will set up a student-driven “need-to-know” motivation for learning the science. The more the students tell you what they need to find out, the better.
After seeing that through science your students can make positive changes in their lives it will set the stage for engagement in learning of biology for the rest of the year. That is why doing this unit near the beginning of the year is worth the time investment. For the rest of the year, your students will be tuned into the idea of looking at science with a critical social lens. They will want to learn biology because it will help them in their lives.
Two Options for Overall Unit Sequence:
Six Week Option that includes a YPAR project. (Youth Participatory Action Research)
Week 1: Introduction to the Social Context around Lactose Intolerance. Bias analysis of a text book paragraph, Activity to learn about how lactase persistence evolved in particular populations. Start the YPAR project.
Week 2: Scientific Investigations about Lactase; Setting up what other research is needed. Connect with Scientific Mentors.
Week 3: Conduct Research and Collect Data. Learn about Enzymes through experimental inquiry, readings, videos and other resources provided. Connect with mentors.
Week 4: Analyze the data and decide how to present it and to whom. Begin to create the report and presentation of the findings and recommendations. Seek out feedback from the mentors.
Week 5: Complete the first draft of the report and the presentation and Practice it in front of peers and teachers. Conduct self-assessment, peer assessment and get feedback from the mentors. Brush up on scientific background knowledge that may be asked by the audience.
Week 6: Revise the report and/or presentation based on feedback. Give the presentation to stakeholders from the community, including mentors. Publish it online. Seek out further audiences for future presentations in wider communities.
Three Week Option that has a shorter alternative social justice action project to the YPAR project.
Week 1: Introduction to the Social Context around Lactose. Conduct Bias Analysis. Learn about how lactase persistence evolved in particular populations
Week 2: Learn about Enzymes through scientific inquiry, readings, videos and other resources. Connect with mentors.
Week3. Brush up and show mastery of scientific concepts. Rewrite the original Text book paragraph on Lactose intolerance. Get feedback from mentors, self, teacher and peer feedback and revise. Publish text book chapter with Ck-12.org.