Daily Video

November 21, 2019

Sharing innovation and invention stories


Directions: Read the summary, watch the Student Reporting Labs’ (SRL) videos and answer the questions. You may want to turn on the “CC” (closed-captions) function. Be sure to check out out the rest of SRL STEM and Health series here.


Video 1: Recycling for Cancer Research (see video above) Produced by Student Reporting Labs Cedar Crest High School, Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Lesson by Kate Anderson, Beyond Benign; Michele Glidden, Society for Science & the Public; and Tanaga Boozer, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Summary: Nataliya Smith is the study coordinator for the Biorepository Project at the Neuroscience Institute at Penn State College of Medicine, where she catalogs and recycles tissue samples leftover from operations for future research.

Discussion questions:

  • Essential question: What is clinical research and why is it important?
  • How does Dr. Smith’s work advance cancer research?  
  • What ethical concerns might you consider in this research practice?
  • How can our personal experiences and emotions inspire inventive devices, innovation and advancement of knowledge?

Extension activity: Research using human tissue and DNA has a complex and contentious history in the U.S., involving racism and invasion of privacy. To learn more, watch Henrietta Lacks’ ‘Immortal’ Impact on Research Now Extends to Patient Consent. Lacks died 68 years ago, but her cells — known as HeLa — live on through scientific research. HeLa cells have led to world-changing medical advances for decades. In this NewsHour segment, Dr. Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health discusses an agreement made with the Lacks’ family over control of her DNA legacy. Ask your students: How did Lacks become a key figure in the right to personal privacy, medical research, ethics and racism?


Video 2: Flint Water Crisis Update Produced by Student Reporting Labs Royal Oak High School, Detroit, Michigan

Summary: In this video, students will learn about the Flint water crisis and listen to different voices involved in the crisis. They will also discover how community members came together to expose the issue and deal with the ongoing health problems.

Lesson by Pam Kahl, The Lemelson Foundation, Portland, OR and Linda Hosler, US Patent & Trademark Office, Alexandria, VA

Discussion questions:

  1. Why is lead in the water supply a serious problem?
  2. How did the different parts of the Flint community come together to address the problem?
  3. How could less expensive or faster inventions test for contaminants in the water supply?
  4. Keeping in mind those individuals who are affected by lead poisoning, brainstorm possible inventions could improve life in Flint.
  5. How could you reuse all the empty water bottles in Flint to raise awareness about the need for clean, safe water? 


Video 3: Plastics pollute paradise: Produced by Student Reporting Labs Maui Waena Intermediate School, Kahului, Hawaii

Lesson by Kate Anderson, Beyond Benign; Michele Glidden, Society for Science & the Public; and Tanaga Boozer, United States Patent and Trademark Office

Summary: Teams of citizen scientists are cleaning the beaches and cataloging the problem of ocean plastics. Beach cleanups raise community awareness and inform the public of the challenges and need for change. 

Discussion questions:

  1. How is the Maui community addressing ocean plastics?
  2. What does cataloging of the plastic waste contribute to our understanding of the overall problem?
  3. Why are microplastics (tiny plastic 5 millimeters across or smaller) a serious problem for ocean life and humans?
  4. While beach clean-ups can reduce some of the harm from plastic pollution, how else can the community address the broader problems around ocean plastics? Working with a partner, brainstorm possible inventions that go beyond citizen beach clean-ups and address the microplastics problem.
  5. How can we reduce plastic in our lives? How can we reimagine the design of materials that have the same properties and uses as plastics?

Extension activities

  1. What is invention education? How else could you find out about new inventions and inventors? Check out #InventEd via Twitter and inventioneducation.org and join the community of inventors who are seeking answers to these problems. Check out these examples and opportunities for youth inventors:
  2. PBS NewsHour Extra lesson plan: Our plastic problem and how to solve it. Ask your students: Do you think this video will have some effect on how often you accept and recycle small plastic products? Will you consider alternatives? Explain.


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