Stem cell workshop

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Stem cell workshop

Grade Level: Museum Educators
Subject: Stem Cells
Sub-Subject: Developing and sharing opinions on a controversial topic
Length/Duration: 2 workshops, 3 hours each
Technologies Used: Internet references sites, Go!Animate, Blogger for video sharing

Workshop Overview[edit]

Stage 1: Students are introduced to a negative opinion on stem cell research. Students will review online resources to learn more about stem cell research.

Stage 2: Students will develop and perform a play based on the stem cell controversy. They will end the play with a controversial question.

Stage 3: Using an animation technology (Go!Animate), students will finish the play online.

Stage 4: Students will share their animations using (Blogger).

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Workshop Plan[edit]

Stage 1:

Introduce the workshop as an investigation into stem cell research.

Share an opinion of stem cell research by stating, "Stem cell research is bad because it's killing babies and using the stem cells from the dead fetus." By declaring this negative opinion of stem cells, the student's choice is eliminated. Therefore, they will be likely to choose a positive opinion towards stem cells (Brehm & Sensenig, 1966). The given argument against stem cells is weak and consequently will cause students to develop strong pro-stem cell opinion. Providing a weak argument will also cause students to think about why they believe in stem cell research (McGuire & Papageorgis, 1961).

Ask your students to review the following sites:

1. Wikipedia

2. How Stuff Works

3. NIH Stem Cell Information

4. Ethics on Stem Cell Research

5. Stem Cells from Skin Cells

6. Stem Cells

7. NY Times article

8. American Catholic

9. AMA article

10. University of Utah

11. New England Journal of Medicine

12. Newsweek

13. NOVA ScienceNow

Share this link The Truth is Out There and ask your students to keep internet resource credibility in mind as they research.

Stage 2:

During this portion of the workshop, students will develop a play around stem cell controversy. Break your students into groups of 4-5. The play they develop will not have an ending. It will "end" with a cliffhanger, and crucial question for the other students to use later in the lesson. Have student "end" with one of the following prompts:

1. Would you use stem cells from human embryos?

2. Would you use stem cells from aborted fetal tissue?

3. Would you use stem cells taken from an umbilical cord?

In this stage, students are given choice. They are in charge of developing their own play and are able to share their perspective on stem cell research (Freire, 1970). Since students are given this freedom, the plays should be rich in content and creativity (Neuman et al, 1995).

However, make sure their play is in context. For instance, they should present realistic characters and scenarios. They should not simply restate the question you gave them, but develop characters that have to make those decisions.

Stage 3:

Each student will choose a play to finish. Utilize Go!Animate to create an online animation to develop their own ending. Their animation needs to reflect their opinion on stem cell research and also incorporate sites from "Stage 1". Have them list the resources and sites they used to develop their opinions. The online anonymity will allow students to feel more comfortable sharing their opinion about this controversial topic (Merryfield, 2003). It also allow students to provide input and take part in directing the workshop (Freire, 1970).

Tips on using Go!Animate:

- Students can sign up for a free account - Watch video tutorials - View other videos

Scaffolding tips:

- Require a certain length for student videos - Suggest using the ready-made characters and backgrounds - Work with a partner - Allow enough time to develop animations (approx. 1 hour)

Check out the video I developed: My Video 250px

Stage 4:

Students will post their animations to the Workshop Blog. Ask students to share the resources and sites they used when making their animation. They can cite resources from Stage 1. Encourage students to comment on other videos.

Teacher Tip: Online Etiquette Workshop is a lesson utilizing Wikispaces to foster classroom norms in class and online.

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Brehm, J. W., & Sensenig, J. (1966). Social influence as a function of attempted and implied usurpation of choice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4(6), 703-707.

This article focused on testing a theory about choice. The researchers examined what happens when a person's choice is threatened. In the study, 45 males and 46 females were recruited and divided into 3 groups: control (no threat to freedom), low implication (of threat to freedom) and high implication (of threat to freedom). With no threat, participants generally accepted the other person’s preference. With a low threat, half of the participants accepted, the other half rejected. With a high threat, more students rejected the other person's preference.

These results indicated that when a person’s choice is threatened, they are more likely to reject the other person’s preference. I incorporate the concept of choice in this lesson when the teacher states a negative opinion on stem cell research. Stating this negative opinion, as demonstrated in this article, should cause the students to choose a positive opinion of stem cell research.

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed (pp. 75-118). New York: Herder & Herder.

This book supports the constructivist approach to teaching. In this lesson, the instructor does not tell the students what to believe about stem cell research. The lesson is designed to allow students to explore how stem cells works, research the stem cell controversy, share their idea with peers, and develop a stronger opinion of what they believe is true.

This lesson is also designed to allow the students to give feedback about stem cells. When students develop and perform their own plays, and then create an ending to the play, they are sharing feedback with their teacher and peers. This concept is vital in Freire's (1970) book because it is important to have the students provide input and contribute to their own learning process.

McGuire, W. J., & Papageorgis, D. (1961). The relative efficacy of various types of prior belief-defense in producing immunity against persuasion. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 62(2), 327-337.

This article described a study about weak arguments. The authors (1961) found that when you provide someone with a weak argument, it causes the person to think about why they believe in something. It causes the person to reassess why they believe in something; ultimately, strengthening their argument. For example, Joe says that public transportation is bad because it takes too long. Susie thinks about why she likes and uses public transportation (i.e. she saves money on not buying car, it's better for the environment, etc.). Susie's argument is now strengthened because she has thought about many reasons why she believes in public transportation.

In the beginning of this lesson, the teacher states an opinion against stem cell research, but provides a weak argument. This should cause the students to research and develop why they support stem cell research.

Merryfield, M. (2003). Like a veil: Cross-cultural experiential learning online. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 3(2), 146-171.

This article discussed the importance of using online forums. Communicating online reduces stereotyping because you cannot see the person you are speaking with. Similarly, students develop the outcome to controversial plays and can develop them with anonymity. This will make students more comfortable about sharing their opinion on this controversial topic.

Neuman, S. B., Hagedorn, T., Celano, D., & Daly, P. (1995). Toward a collaborative approach to parent involvement in early education: A study of teenage mothers in an African-American community. American Educational Research Journal, 32(4), 801-827.

This study examined beliefs from adolescent mothers and how they viewed early childhood learning. Findings from previous studies were limited. Neuman et al. (1995) attribute this to poor research design. The researchers explain that the women in previous studies were given no choice during the research. In this study, the researchers tried to create an open and comfortable atmosphere where the teen parents were able to share their opinion. This atmosphere provided more choice. The researchers used non-directive interview techniques to allow the group to take control of their conversation. Based on this open atmosphere, with peer discussion groups, the researchers make powerful findings. Similarly, in this lesson, students are given choice to explore different aspects of stem cell research that interest them by developing their own play.

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