Our Genes Our Choices
Who Gets To Know Making Better Babies Genes On Trial
What Do You Know Could We Should We Science Sidebars About Fred Friendly Get Involved
Get Involved with Our Genes / Our Choices

Lesson Plans for Educators

Sponsored by
Metropolitan Life Foundation Logo
Creating Genetic Counselor Pamphlets
< Back to Lesson Plan Index page

Grade Levels: 6-8

Estimated Time: 3 class periods (one to introduce topic, one for research, one for pamphlet creation) OR 1 to introduce topic, then assign pamphlet research and creation as homework.

Introduction:: After discussing the pro's and con's of prenatal genetic testing, students research a particular genetic disorder and then create pamphlets about the disorder from a genetic counselor's point of view.

Materials Needed
Teaching Strategies
Assessment Ideas
Extension Ideas
Standards Correlations
About the Author

Lesson Objectives:
Students will:

  • Define prenatal genetic testing
  • Describe the inheritance pattern of a particular disorder
  • Describe the cause and symptoms of an inherited disorder
  • Discuss the types of decisions required in relation to prenatal genetic testing
  • Research and creatively present findings

Materials Needed:

Teaching Strategy:

  1. Ask students to brainstorm a list of questions expectant parents might ask a doctor about their unborn child. At this point, introduce the video "Making Better Babies," and show segment one from 00:00 to 19:04. Refer to the Viewer's Guide (available online at http://www.pbs.org/fredfriendly/ourgenes/making_better_babies/making_guide_3.html) for discussion questions after the video.

  2. Tell the students that their next task is to take on the role of assistant to a genetic counselor. Instruct them to create an informational pamphlet about a particular genetic disorder that may be detected through genetic testing. The students can choose from the following disorders:
    • Huntington's Disease
    • Tay-Sachs Disease
    • Cystic Fibrosis
    • Downs syndrome
    • Hemophilia
    • Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
    • Turner's Syndrome
    • Klinefelter's Syndrome

  3. Students then research their chosen disorder to find answers to the following questions.
    • How is this disorder inherited?
    • What are the symptoms of the disorder?
    • What are the current treatments for this disorder?
    • Is there help available for families with this disorder?
    • Who should have the test done?
    • What is the procedure for the test?
    • What exactly do the test results mean? Does the test indicate probabilities or certainties of having offspring with this disorder?

    Online Resources:

  4. Once students have completed their research, instruct them to make a pamphlet presenting the information, keeping in mind that their audience consists of prospective parents. You may want to have various styles of pamphlets on hand to give students different formatting ideas.

Assessment Ideas:
Teachers may assess students' understanding of the issues through participation in class discussion, research skills, and reative and thorough presentation of information in pamphlet form.

Extension Ideas:

  • Use the pamphlets to act out skits involving prenatal genetic testing dilemmas.
  • Brainstorm ideas for future genetic counselor pamphlet topics, such as cloning, traits for designer babies, disease resistant babies, etc.

Correlation to Standards:

Correlation to the National Science Education Standards:

  1. CONTENT STANDARD C: As a result of their activities, all students should develop understanding of molecular basis of heredity:
    • Most of the cells in a human contain two copies of each of 22 different chromosomes. The fact that the human body is formed from cells that contain two copies of each chromosome--and therefore two copies of each gene--explains many features of human heredity, such as how variations that are hidden in one generation can be expressed in the next.
    • Changes in DNA (mutations) occur spontaneously at low rates. Some of these changes make no difference to the organism, whereas others can change cells and organisms. Only mutations in germ cells can create the variation that changes an organism's offspring.
  2. CONTENT STANDARD E: As a result of activities, all students should develop understandings about science and technology:
    • Science often advances with the introduction of new technologies. Solving technological problems often results in new scientific knowledge. New technologies often extend the current levels of scientific understanding and introduce new areas of research.

Note: This lesson plan is also correlated to state science standards through the PBS TeacherSource Web site.

About the Author: Author Viki Babcock taught biology and physical science for 5 years at Hannibal High School in Hannibal, Missouri. She is currently teaching biology, zoology and botany at DeSoto High School in DeSoto, Missouri.

Buy Video Email A Friend Watch Video Credits