Eighth graders explore why we are

Eighth graders at Western Middle School recently got some life lessons, having completed the science program’s heredity and reproduction unit.

Since the school was recently authorized as an International Baccalaureate (IB) school, students have been learning through different lenses or, as IB calls them, Areas of Interaction. For this unit, the students learned with a focus on health and social education. Students reexamined the unit question, “What makes us the way we are?” several times throughout the unit as they learned about different topics that impact humans and, other organisms, such as DNA, genetics and nature vs. nurture.

Students ended the unit with a research project of their choosing, and looked into complex science topics like genetically modified foods and human and pet cloning. In addition to the research, students needed to pick a side and explain the moral and ethical implications for their topic. The unit, and especially the project, asks students to look at issues from a global perspective.

The majority of the students chose to do their project on the topic of designer babies. Some students created a website and presented their information as if they were a clinic that helped to create designer babies. Other students created scrapbooks or diaries as if they were adults contemplating the decision of whether or not to have a designer baby.

All students were asked to look at the larger issues, and, to help align with Common Core, they were also asked to use their research in an argumentative essay.

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