Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

Luis Amaya

Newcomers High School

Queens, NY


An introduction to genetic disorders


The students will become interested in the causes of genetic disorders.

Do Now:

Separate the students into pairs, one boy and one girl. You will then tell the students that for this class period they are married to their partner and all decisions made have to be agreed upon by both parties. Any person left without a pair is said to be a single-parent.


Every couple is told that the wife is five months pregnant and that after a visit to the doctor their unborn child has been diagnosed with a genetic disorder and/or genetic defect. The doctor tells the couple that the life expectancy for their child is approximately five years, it may be longer but with serious complications.


Each couple now must discuss their alternatives and agree upon a conclusion. [Teaching Standard B- Orchestrate scientific discourse/Recognize and respond to diversity]The teacher may help in providing basic scientific facts about genetic disorders if the students ask, however, the teacher cannot state his or her opinion. Give the students 10 minutes to discuss their alternatives, be prepared to hear couples arguing and asking for divorces. They must complete the task.

After everyone is settled, one by one each pair will state their conclusion. Ask each pair to support its decision. Those that disagreed are allowed to state their individual opinions but will not be counted in the final tally. Allow other couples to interject if they have a different opinion.

Upon tallying all the possible conclusions, draw a table on the board and demonstrate where the majority lies.


1. Have students calculate the percentages for each conclusion.

2. Have the students select any genetic disorder and briefly explain the causes and consequences.

Next Day:

Allow students to present their homework in front of the class.



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