Cell Biology and Cancer
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Implementing the Module

The five activities in this module are designed to be taught either in sequence, as a supplement to your standard curriculum, or as individual activities that support or enhance your treatment of specific concepts in biology. The following pages offer general suggestions about using these materials in the classroom; you will find specific suggestions in the support material provided for each activity.

Goals for the Module

Cell Biology and Cancer is designed to help students develop the following major goals associated with biological literacy: (1) to understand a set of basic scientific principles related to cancer as a cellular phenomenon, (2) to experience the process of inquiry and develop an enhanced understanding of the nature and methods of science, and (3) to recognize the role of science in society and the relationship between basic science and personal and public health.

Conceptual Organization of the Activities

We have organized the activities to form a conceptual whole that moves students from an introduction to cancer (The Faces of Cancer), to an investigation of its biological basis (Cancer and the Cell Cycle and Cancer as a Multistep Process), to a discussion of how people evaluate claims about cancer (Evaluating Claims About Cancer), to a consideration of how understanding cancer can help people make decisions about issues related to personal and public health (Acting on Information About Cancer). Figure 11 illustrates the sequence of major concepts addressed by the five activities.

Figure 11 - Conceptual flow of the activities.
Activity Major Concept
Activity 1
The Faces of Cancer
Cancer is a group of more than 100 diseases that develop across time. Cancer can develop in virtually any of the body's tissues, and both hereditary and environmental factors contribute to its development.
Activity 2
Cancer and the Cell Cycle
The growth and differentiation of cells in the body normally are precisely regulated; this regulation is fundamental to the orderly process of development that we observe across the life spans of multicellular organisms. Cancer develops due to the loss of growth control in cells. Loss of control occurs as a result of mutations in genes that are involved in cell cycle control.
Activity 3
Cancer as a Multistep Process
No single event is enough to turn a cell into a cancerous cell. Instead, it seems that the accumulation of damage to a number of genes ("multiple hits") across time leads to cancer.
Activity 4
Evaluating Claims About Cancer
Scientists use systematic and rigorous criteria to evaluate claims about factors associated with cancer. Consumers can evaluate such claims by applying criteria related to the source, certainty, and reasonableness of the supporting information.
Activity 5
Acting on Information About Cancer
We can use our understanding of the science of cancer to improve personal and public health. Translating our understanding of science into public policy can raise a variety of issues, such as the degree to which society should govern the health practices of individuals. Such issues often involve a tension between the values of preserving personal and public health and preserving individual freedom and autonomy.

Although we encourage you to use the activities in the sequence outlined in Figure 11, many of the activities can be taught individually, to replace or enhance a more traditional approach to the same or related content. Figure 12 provides recommendations for inserting the activities into a standard high school curriculum in biology.

Correlation to the National Science Education Standards

Cell Biology and Cancer supports teachers in their efforts to reform science education in the spirit of the National Research Council's 1996 National Science Education Standards (NSES). Figure 13 lists the specific content and teaching standards that this module primarily addresses.

Active, Collaborative, and Inquiry-Based Learning

The activities in this module are designed to offer students the opportunity to participate in active, collaborative, and inquiry-based learning in biology. But what do these terms mean? Despite their current popularity, many teachers think of active, collaborative, and inquiry-based learning rather generically. Defining these three key terms more specifically will provide a foundation on which we can build a detailed description of the instructional approach that the five activities in this module advocate and implement.

Conceptually the broadest of the three, active learning means that students are involved "in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing" (Bonwell and Eison, 1991, p. 2). These authors elaborate by listing the following characteristics typically associated with strategies that deserve to be labeled "active:"

Figure 12 - Correlation between activities and standard curricula.
The table indicates where topics addressed in the module are covered in a variety of current high school textbooks.
Topic Module Activity Biology Textbook** Chapter
1 2 3 4 5 DOL AEE LS Blue Green Human VL P & E Modern TLS
biology of cancer     11 22 10 9 7 13 essay 6,33 9 11 40
cell cycle and
regulation of
cell division
      11 22 7 9 5 13 essay 6 6 8 5
mutation       13 10 8 13 8 12 essay 6,7,8 9 10,12 9
cancer and
personal and
public health
      24   24 16 16 18 23
**DOL = Biology: The Dynamics of Life (Glencoe)
AEE = Biology: An Everyday Experience (Glencoe)
LS = Biology: Living Systems (Glencoe)
Blue = BSCS Biology: A Molecular Approach (D.C. Heath and Co./McDougal-Littel)
Green = BSCS Biology: An Ecological Approach (Kendall/Hunt)
Human = BSCS Biology: A Human Approach (Kendall/Hunt)
VL = Biology: Visualizing Life (Holt, Rinehart, Winston)
P & E = Biology: Principles & Explorations (Holt, Rinehart, Winston)
Modern = Modern Biology (Holt, Rinehart, Winston)
TLS = Biology: The Living Science (Prentice Hall)

 

Figure 13 - Correlation to the National Science Education Standards.
The Content Standards
Standard A: As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry and understandings about scientific inquiry. Correlation to Cell Biology and Cancer
. Identify questions and concepts that guide scientific investigations. Activities 2, 3, and 4
. Design and conduct scientific investigations. Activity 4
. Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications. Activity 3
. Formulate and revise scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence. Activities 2,3 and 4
. Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and models. Activities 3
. Communicate and defend a scientific argument. Activity 4
. Understandings about scientific inquiry. Activities 2, 3, and 4
Standard C: As a result of their activities in grades 9-12, all students Correlation to Cell Biology and Cancer
should develop understanding of the cell.
. Cells store and use information to guide their functions. Activities 2 and 3
. Cell functions are regulated. Activity 2
should develop understanding of the molecular basis of heredity.
. In all organisms, the instructions for specifying the characteristics of the organism are carried in the DNA. Activities 2 and 3
. Changes in DNA occur spontaneously at low rates. Activities 2 and 3
should develop understanding of the interdependence of organisms.
. Human beings live within the world's ecosystems. Activity 5
Standard E: As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop abilities of technological design and understandings about science and technology. Correlation to Cell Biology and Cancer
. Science often advances with the introduction of new technologies. Activity 3
. Creativity, imagination, and a good knowledge base are all required in the work of science and engineering. Activities 1-5
Standard F: As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of Correlation to Cell Biology and Cancer
. personal and community health. Activities 1, 4, and 5
• natural and human-induced hazards. Activities 1, 4, and 5
. science and technology in local, national, and global challenges. Activity 5
Standard G: As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of Correlation to Cell Biology and Cancer
. science as a human endeavor. Activities 2 and 4
. nature of scientific knowledge. Activities 2, 3, and 4
. historical perspectives. Activity 2
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