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Plan: The Nervous System

Grade: Biology 30
Unit: A: Nervous and Endocrine Systems
Topic: The Effect of Neurotoxins on the Nervous System and Censorship of Scientific Research
(Dual-Use Research of Concern).
Duration: Three 90 minute class periods.
Designed to promote scientific literacy, critical thinking, and collaboration. The
WebQuest will encourage students to analyze information and develop scientific literacy
skills. In addition, students must work individually as well as collaboratively to organize
information for a persuasive essay and a four corners debate.
Social Issue:
Should all scientific information be accessible to the public? Students will look at both the
pros and cons of scientific censorship related to neurotoxins.
Specific Learning Outcomes:
30A1.2sts Students will explain that scientific investigation includes the process of analyzing
evidence and providing explanations based upon scientific theories and concepts (NS5f) [ICT C7
4.2] (Alberta Education, 2014).
30A1.1sts Students will explain that scientific knowledge and theories develop through
hypotheses, the collection of evidence, investigation and the ability to provide explanations (NS2)
(Alberta Education, 2014).
30-A1.2s Students will conduct investigations into relationships between and among observable
variables and use a broad range of tools and techniques to gather and record data and
information (Alberta Education, 2014).
30-A1.4s Students will work collaboratively in addressing problems and apply the skills and
conventions of science in communicating information and ideas and in assessing results (Alberta
Education, 2014).
Instructional Objectives: Students will actively gather information related to the nervous
system, neurotoxins, and the ramifications of dual-use research of concern. Students will analyze
both the pros and cons of scientific censorship related to neurotoxins. Students will write a
persuasive essay based on their position.


I Can Student Statements:

1. I can analyze scientific articles and videos.
2. I can think critically about a controversial scientific issue and defend my position with
credible resources.
Prior Knowledge:
Nerve impulse transmissions
Central and peripheral nervous systems
Reflex arcs
Sensory receptors
Major Concepts:
Nervous systems
Dual-use research of concern
Materials and Equipment: Writing materials, chart/construction paper, USB/adaptor, Biology
30 textbook, Internet access/online resources, computer lab (portable).
Safety Requirements/Precautions:
1. Maintain awareness of student behavior during activities.
2. In case of a medical incident, provide medical attention and document incident.
Book computer lab prior to the activity/reserve Chromebooks, Ipads, or computers with
Internet access.
Send material for printing prior to activity.
Assignment handout (instructions)
Ensure all links and videos are active prior to beginning the activity.
Gather all appropriate materials for the concept map activity
Chart paper or construction paper
Markers or crayons
Create signs for the four corners debate
Agree/Disagree/Strongly Agree/Strongly Disagree
Lesson Overview: The lesson will include a review of the nervous system, WebQuest, concept
map activity, persuasive essay, four corners debate, and a class discussion.
Day 1- Overview:
Students will engage in an online activity (WebQuest).
Students will work individually through a series of activities and answer a number of

questions relating to neurotoxins, their effect on the human body, their role in society
and around the world.
Students will actively work through a variety of links and videos provided to them in
order to focus on a larger social issue.
Students will conclude the activity by analyzing and integrating the information collected
in order to write a persuasive essay related to dual-use research of concern and their
position on censorship of scientific information.

Introduction (Day 1) (5min):

Post I Can student statements on the board.
Probing Questions:
What do we know about the nervous system?
Answer: Summarize key concepts. Allow students opportunity for review. Purpose is to activate
the students prior knowledge.
What might affect our nervous system?
Answer: External factors, disease, stages of development, toxins- neurotoxins
See- Adaptation 1 and Adaptation 2-If a student requires more information about the nervous
Body (Day 1) (80 min):
Students will have one class period to complete their WebQuest activity.
Students will need to take ownership of their work and will be required to take initiative
of their learning through the process of working through the WebQuest and answering
questions diligently with the provided class time.
The teacher will provide students with the link to their WebQuest.
Students will be directed to the introductory page where they will encounter their
mission. The introductory page will offer the students a guideline to the steps and roles
they will take on throughout the activity.
Students will start as an FBI agent investigating three different cases.
Students must read through three different articles relating to the use of sarin gas, which
is a neurotoxin.
In addition, students will have access to two supplementary videos that discusses
information from the two articles (Tokyo and Syria).
Students will then be asked to answer two questions based on their findings.
Answers to questions may be used as formative assessment. Answers will be
emailed to the teacher to monitor progress.
What was the murder weapon?

Answer: sarin gas (neurotoxin).

How does the murder weapon affect the nervous system?
Nerve agent does not directly kill, rather, works within seconds causing
the nervous system to work against the body.
Acetylcholine builds up, this accumulation of normal neurotransmitter
tells nerves to function excessively.

Students will then be prompted to review coroner reports, which will provide them with
information regarding the victims from the cases they investigated.
Students will have a link providing information related to the effects of sarin gas on the
human body.
In addition, students will have access to three YouTube videos outlining the effects,
symptoms, and repercussions of sarin gas.
Students will then be prompted to answer questions based on the information they have
List noticeable symptoms caused by exposure to sarin gas (neurotoxin).
Answer: Tightness in chest, runny nose, constricted pupils. Soon after, the
victim experiences difficulty breathing, nausea, and drooling. Eventually
they lose complete control of their bodily functions.
What are some effects on the nervous system?
Nerve agents bind to part of the acetylcholinesterase (AChE). This makes
the AChE inactive and blocks the action of AChE.
No way to stop the action of acetylcholine
Acetylcholine builds up at the synapse
Acetylcholine continues to act.
Subsequently, students will be asked to review material related to dual-use research of concern
and scientific censorship. In order to provide students with enough background information as to
the meaning and importance of dual-use research of concern, students will be prompted to
watch a video outlining its meaning.
Students will then be prompted to look at research related to the positive aspects of neurotoxins.
Students will have access to three different links pertaining to therapeutic benefits. It will be
important that students spend time reviewing the information in order to have a well-rounded
perspective on neurotoxins and the value of scientific research and publication.
After gathering information based on dual-use research of concern, students will be asked by the
Prime Minister of Canada for assistance as an expert in their field (FBI agent). Students should
review all of the material provided on the WebQuest to form their opinion based on the
Question: Should all scientific research be available to the public?

Students will be encouraged to access to an online debate source where both sides of
censorship are argued. This is a good starting point for the students to decide on their
The teacher should emphasize to students that a successful paper should take advantage
of the sources provided.

Students will have access to an outline of their assignment, as well as a rubric (hard copy and

Closing (Day 1) (5min):

Students will put their devices away.
Assign WebQuest as homework if not completed during the allotted class time.
Hand-out hard copies of the assignment (i.e., the persuasive essay) and the rubric.
Students should review the assignment for homework.
For Next Class: Students should decide on their stance for their persuasive paper (i.e., whether
they are for or against censorship of dual-use research of concern).
Day 2- Overview:
Students will create group concept maps related to their persuasive essay.
Students will work collaboratively and communicate with one another to successfully
link concepts and ideas.
In addition, students will have an opportunity to brainstorm and begin a rough draft of
their paper.
Introduction (Day 2) (10min):
Recap: WebQuest
Assignment Overview- Persuasive Writing
Re-introduce the persuasive essay assignment. Provide students with handouts (see
attached) if not already provided. Read through the objectives of the assignment with the
Brainstorm with students what makes an excellent persuasive essay.
Establishing facts to support an argument
Clarifying relevant values for your audience (perspective)
Prioritizing, editing, and/or sequencing the facts and values in
importance to build the argument
Forming and stating conclusions
"Persuading" your audience that your conclusions are based upon the
agreed-upon facts and shared values
Having the confidence to communicate your "persuasion" in writing
Provide an exemplar on a different controversial issue.
See link provided:
Go over assignment.
Review rubric.
Answer any student questions.
See- Adaptation 3- If students need more help understanding how to write a persuasive essay.
Body (Day 2) (40min):
Direct Instruction- PowerPoint
Probing Question: What is a concept map?
Answer: Graphic organizer, tool to connect ideas, or conceptual diagram that depicts suggested
relationships between concepts.
Activity- Concept Map
Divide the class into those who decided for scientific censorship and those who decided
against censorship.
For those who were absent and did not complete the WebQuest, or are undecided as to
their position ask them to choose a group and offer them the choice to change their
position. It will be important to look at both sides of the debate.
Students will form groups of 2-3 members who have the same position as them.
Hand-out chart paper or construction paper to each of the groups and supply writing
Students will create a group concept map, outlining important points and scientific
evidence they should include in their persuasive paper.
Teacher will aid and facilitate group conversation.
Closing (Day 2) (30min):
After completing their group concept maps, students will have an opportunity to brainstorm
ideas on their own and begin a rough draft of their essay.
Remind students that their paper will be due at the beginning of next class (1 week from the date
Teacher Note: Students can hand-in their concept map as formative assessment.
Day 3- Overview:
Lesson to occur on assignment (persuasive essay) due date.

This activity will be an extension of the assignment. Students will work collaboratively
to understand the various sides of the debate on censorship of scientific research. By the
end of the lesson, students will be able to express various perspectives to explain the
issue of scientific censorship.
Students will work in groups to clearly verbalize their positions on a specific

Students will practice listening skills while other groups present their positions.
Students will be able to use convincing arguments to sway each others' opinions.
Introduction (Day 3) (10min):
Students will hand in their persuasive essays at the beginning of class.
Body (Day 3) (60min):
1. The teacher will post four pieces of paper in the four corners of the classroom.
2. The teacher will write the controversial topic on the board (i.e., censorship of scientific
3. Students will be asked to move to the corner that best matches their position (Strongly
Agree, Somewhat Agree, Strongly Disagree, Somewhat Disagree). If social cliques are a
problem, have students write their choice on a card first in order to ensure honest
4. At each corner students will have 2 minutes to discuss and solidify their reasoning/logic
for their position.
5. Each group will select a spokesperson to express their group's position. He/she has 30
seconds to express their thoughts concisely and persuade their classmates to join their
position. Other groups must listen attentively.
6. After the first corner presents, invite those who have been persuaded by the groups
arguments to move to the appropriate corner.
7. Direct each group to present their group's position in turn. Allow students to move to the
appropriate corners if they change their minds.
See Safety Requirements/Precautions.
Closing (Day 3) (20min):
Class Discussion:
Probing Questions:
Why might we want to consider dual-use research of concern?
Answer: Social ramifications, National security, and terrorism.
How does scientific information impact our lives?
Answer: Accessibility of knowledge, advances in science, pre-service field experience.
Do you think we should have a say when it comes to scientific censorship?
Answer: Depends on students opinion, which should be based on evidence. Ensure that students
look at all sides of the debate.
Formative Assessments -
WebQuest questions

Concept maps
Observations during the four corners debate

Summative Assessment-
Persuasive essay (see student handout and rubric)
Students will incorporate appropriate research into their essays and cite their sources.

1. Review of the nervous system- Crash course (12min) YouTube video -
Provide LearnAlberta username and password.
2. Extra review- Simulation - WebQuest link
3. Provide scaffolding for persuasive essay- Provide handout- Link:
Teacher Notes/Preparation:
This lesson should occur near the end of the unit.
Ensure all students have access to their own computer/internet device.
Ensure all links in the WebQuest are still active.
Day 1- Introduction. Be cautious when asking students about factors that affect the
nervous system. Ideally, students should mention neurotoxins, but do not provide them
with any answers to questions from the WebQuest.
Day 1- WebQuest. If students do not complete their WebQuest during the allotted class
time the WebQuest should be assigned for homework.
Day 2- Have permission from the student when presenting a student exemplar, or use the
exemplar provided.
When addressing the assignment ensure that when presenting the issue of for or
against censorship that the ideas mentioned are only possible starting points and the
students essay should not be restricted to the information provided.
Backup Plans:
1. Create a hard copy of the WebQuest (including all links) in case the Internet is down or
devices are unavailable.
a. Print the tab pages in addition to articles and summarize videos.
2. Print the three different case files related to terrorism using sarin gas.
a. Divide the class into three groups and assign one article to each group.
b. Based on the readings, have each group present their finding on their given
c. Introduce the idea of dual-use research of concern.
d. Assign the WebQuest as homework- provided students will have access to the
Internet from home.

Alberta Education (2014). Biology 20-30 [Programs of Studies]. Edmonton, Canada: Alberta

Patrone D., Resnik, D., Chin, L. (2012). Biosecurity and the Review and Publication of Dual-Use
Research of Concern. Biosecur Bioterror. Retrieved from

Additional References- Student Resources:

Articles on the Dual-Use Research of Concern:
Articles discussing both sides of the censorship debate:
Article FOR censorship:
Article AGAINST censorship:

Student Handout:
Persuasive Paper Assignment
Deadline: _________________________
As an FBI agent, you have been asked to speak as an expert in your field! The Prime Minister would
like you to provide advice and leadership on matters of national security (i.e., dual-use research of
concern). Remember dual-use research of concern is research that is intended to benefit, but may
be inappropriately used to harm society.

You must choose to either take the side "for" censorship of this type of scientific information. For
instance, relating your decision to the events in Tokyo, Syria, and other parts of the world where
the use of sarin (a neurotoxin) was a threat to national security; or "against" censorship, such as
providing therapeutic benefits of scientific research. (You are not restricted to these ideas).

In a three to four page, double-spaced paper, address the controversial issue of scientific
censorship. Focus your paper on to what extent scientific material and information should be
accessible to the public.
In order to properly complete this assignment you should include the following:
1. Choose your position and write your thesis statement. Which side of the issue or problem
are you going to write about and what solution will you offer?
2. Test your thesis (argument). You must present both sides and it must be debatable.
3. Collect all necessary information in order to support your thesis and disprove the opposing
4. Provide specific and convincing evidence to support your position.
5. Structure your essay. What evidence will you include and in what order?
6. Include a minimum of three references from the WebQuest to support your statements and
cite references.
You will be marked according to the attached rubric (also accessible on WebQuest).


Student Handout:
Persuasive Essay : Censorship of Scientific Information
Student Name: ________________________________________


4 - Excellent

3 Proficient

2 Satisfactory

1 - Limited



The position statement provides a

clear, strong statement of the
author's position on the topic.

The position statement

provides a clear statement
of the author's position on
the topic.

A position statement is
present, but does not make
the author's position clear.

There is no position

Support for

Includes 3 or more pieces of

evidence (facts, statistics,
examples, real-life experiences)
that support the position
statement. The writer anticipates
the reader's concerns, biases or
arguments and has provided at
least 1 counter-argument.

Includes 3 or more pieces

of evidence (facts,
statistics, examples, real-
life experiences) that
support the position

Includes 2 pieces of
evidence (facts, statistics,
examples, real-life
experiences) that support
the position statement.

Includes 1 or fewer
pieces of evidence
(facts, statistics,
examples, real-life

Evidence and

All of the evidence and examples

are specific, relevant and
explanations are given that show
how each piece of evidence
supports the author's position.

Most of the evidence and

examples are specific,
relevant and explanations
are given that show how
each piece of evidence
supports the author's

At least one of the pieces of

evidence and examples is
relevant and has an
explanation that shows how
that piece of evidence
supports the authors

Evidence and
examples are NOT
relevant AND/OR are
not explained.


Arguments and support are

provided in a logical order that
makes it easy and interesting to
follow the author's train of

Arguments and support

are provided in a fairly
logical order that makes it
reasonably easy to follow
the authors train of

A few of the support details

or arguments are not in an
expected or logical order,
distracting the reader and
making the essay seem a
little confusing.

Many of the support

details or arguments
are not in an expected
or logical order,
distracting the reader
and making the essay
seem very confusing.


The conclusion is strong and

leaves the reader solidly
understanding the writers
position. Effective restatement of
the position statement begins the
closing paragraph.

The conclusion is
recognizable. The author's
position is restated within
the first two sentences of
the closing paragraph.

The author's position is

restated within the closing
paragraph, but not near the

There is no conclusion
- the paper just ends.

Grammar &

Author makes no errors in

grammar or spelling that distract
the reader from the content.

Author makes 1-2 errors

in grammar or spelling
that distract the reader
from the content.

Author makes 3-4 errors in

grammar or spelling that
distract the reader from the

Author makes more

than 4 errors in
grammar or spelling
that distract the
reader from the