Friday, March 4, 2011

Still busy.

Got a working draft of 2 out of 3 final projects done today. About 20something pages of typing, and I'm dead exhausted. One was a report to put into a teacher wiki on Online Academies, while another is a genetics unit plan. One tidbit of the genetics plan I'm proud of I'll share here, although I should specify the situation: Unit on genetics, I've just defined the biological species concept, i/e a species is defined by organism's ability to produce viable offspring. Previously, in my cooperating teacher's class, we had done an activity where we used the story of an accident prone transhumanist boy named Sammy to get students thinking about the definition of life. Well, I decided to do one about his brother, Tommy.


Is Tommy Human?

Last Unit, we studied a boy named Sammy who throughout the course of his unlucky life, became a robot. We used the definitions of life to determine at which point he was no longer alive. Poor Sammy had a little brother, Tommy. Tommy was not quite as accident prone as Sammy, although he had weak bones due to a genetic disorder he was born with. In this activity, we will be studying Tommy to determine at which point he is no longer part of the human species. Use the definition of species to determine whether or not Tommy is human, and explain your answer.

At age 16, his doctor told him that there was an experimental genetic treatment that had just come out for his disorder. Tommy, excited at the prospect of being able to play sports without risking a broken bone, signed up, took the treatment, and his bones started growing stronger. Is Tommy human?

At age 18, Tommy got sick. The treatment to fix his bones had given him cancer, and the doctors, fearing a lawsuit, decided to cover any medical treatment he might need. One brilliant researcher determined that with enough resources, he could alter Tommy's genome so that his body would be able to fight off any cancer easily. Tommy received the treatment, and got better quickly. Is Tommy human?

By age 24, Tommy had gone to college for biology, and was working in a genetics lab, researching new treatments to alter human genetics. He created one that would allow his eyes to see much better than a normal human eye, and used it on himself. In the process, his Iris turned a pale white color, making him look strange, but he could now see an ant crawling across the floor, 40 feet away. Is Tommy human?

By age 36, Tommy was quite the sensation. He owned a genetic treatment company that he started with the money from his eyesight invention. He had developed a new treatment that would allow humans to breath underwater. Instead of being patient and testing it properly, he administered it to himself. It worked, although after properly testing the treatment, Tommy found out that any children he had with his wife had a 50% chance of not being able to breed, although Tommy was still able to have children. Is Tommy human?

By age 68, Tommy had tried all sorts of new genetic treatments on himself. His skin was a dark shade of green, as he could photosynthesize, and got his food from the sun. He was able to breath underwater, and hold his breath for over an hour. His mind was smarter than any person who had ever lived before him, and he could see in total darkness. He designed one last genetic treatment, one that would stop him from getting any older. The treatment worked, although he found out that as a side effect, he realized that any children he had would have a 100% chance of being unable to breed. Is Tommy human?

By age 153, Tommy left Earth with his brother Sammy, whose computer program had been uploaded into a spaceship. Tommy had received so many genetic treatments that he looked more like a giant spider than a person. He was so biologically different that he could no longer breed with humans, although he could produce fertile offspring with genetically enhanced creatures like him. Is Tommy human?


Thoughts? If there are any teachers reading, feel free to use it. Teaching is open source. Also, since I made progress, I get to see Shatner this weekend. I don't think I can afford his autograph, but I at least want to see the guy at some point in my life.


PS- Biopunk lesson plans has to be my favorite tag ever.

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