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The following is an example of Problem- Based Learning in Science using Bloom’s taxonomy.

You are a team of scientists advising the Secretary of State for Health on use of genetic
engineering to cure disease. The dilemma you are to advise them on is:

Phase 1: Meet the Problem
Why clone humans? Cloning would allow an infertile couple or grieving parents to replicate
an individual. In 1997 the Roslin scientists transferred 277 nuclei to produce 29 normal
embryos, but only one succeeded in a live birth. The excitement of this experiment brought
closer the notion of treating genetic diseases like Parkinson’s disease, sickle-cell anaemia or
cystic fibrosis. The hope lies in the use of stem cells taken from human bone marrow.
These cells have the capability of developing into several different specialised cells. Another
source of stems cells is from the embryo. The extra embryos from fertility clinics could be
another source of these stem cells. Another possible approach to the problem of these
diseases is to screen for the presence of these genes in an individual and prevent them or
strongly advise them never to have children and in this way the mutant gene will disappear
from the population.

Phase 2: Define the Problem
• Explain why genetic engineering can be beneficial or it is not worth the risks.
• Is genetic engineering a viable option for the treatment of genetic diseases?
• How might the advice session be constructed to emphasis the dangers of birth?

Phase 3: Gather the Facts
• List what you know
o Genetic engineering is current research and producing results
o Research takes time and the time scales are long
o The variables are difficult to control and there are many unknowns
o There are moral and ethical problems
• Identify what you need to know
o How genetic engineering works and its dangers
o Where research is taking place
o What is the prognosis for success
o How critical is the solution of a cure for the diseases
o Is there any other realistic possibility
• Indicate what you need to do to tackle the problem
o Research genetic engineering using the library and Internet
o Look for opinions from different perspectives
o Gather data on success and alternatives
o Evaluate success

Phase 4: Hypothesise
• Would a better understanding of genetic engineering help any decisions?
• Are genetic engineering or its alternatives viable?

Phase 5: Research and generate alternative views
Is genetic engineering or its alternatives a reality in a reasonable time scale?
The following are examples of thought experiments approaches and they are designed to
challenge by using difference contexts that enrich the learning experience through a different way
of thinking.

Science Thinking Problems

1. Describe what will happen when the tap in the middle of this device is opened so the
two balloons have a fully open connection to each other?

Hollow tube

Balloon B

Balloon A blown up just past Tap Opens
the initial inflation point

Balloon B is blown well up
past the initial inflation
2. Describe what will happen when the candle burns at both ends? ? Explain why the
candle does what it does and what is causing the effect.

Candle can turn about the central point.

3. Draw a diagram of the following to help you see what is happening.
Two straight cylindrical plastic bottles are lying on their sides on the floor of a railway
carriage. They can roll in the direction of travel of the carriage and motion will vary with
the velocity of the train.

One bottle is one third full of cola and the other is one third full of 50:50 vinegar and olive
Predict and draw a sketch graph of the movement of the two bottles during the following
journey along a straight track. Explain your predictions for each bottle and explain any
differences between the two bottles.
Velocity - train


4. Some reactions are highly exothermic (give out heat exo means to give out) and this can
be used for a number of purposes such as the instant hot coffee drink containers seen at
some garages. If the released heat can be transferred either fast or slow then we can
use the phenomenon. Design a hand warmer and a self-heating can to heat food to a
temperature of 70 degrees Celsius and hold that for 45 minutes. Calcium oxide releases
65kj per mol when mixed with water.

5. Predict which candle will go out first in the following experiment, reach container contains
air at room temperature and is sealed to the bench with soft paraffin gel. Explain your
prediction. Now consider the same experiment but with different size containers over the
top of each candle.

6. An acid reacts with a carbonate to release carbon dioxide; also heat on some carbonates
releases carbon dioxide from the carbonate. This knowledge is used in cooking to ‘raise’
the food by creating small cavities of gas such as in a cake or in bread. Design a piece
of apparatus to calibrate the release of gas from a series of standard amounts of acid
plus carbonate.

7. A plant puts out root hairs into damp soil these root hairs are very thin often only one cell
thick. Osmosis occurs when water can move over a membrane from less concentrated
solution to a more concentrated solution. The water can pass from one cell to another by
osmosis and so to the stem where it can flow up a tube called a xylem to the leaves.
Plants lose water from their leaves as water vapour by transpiration. This helps to cool
the plant and ensures water for photosynthesis. Predict what would happen if:

• The temperature rose around the leaves
• The humidity increased around the leaves
• If there was no wind
• If the hole through which the water transpires is large or small.

Now decide how plants survive in the desert and in swampy conditions.
The following approach to differentiation uses differing learning styles and thinking activities:

Differentiation using Intelligence Traits
Differentiation Verbal-Linguistic Body-Kinaesthetic Logical-Mathematic
Write a science Watch the crystals form Draw a concept map of
description of the way under different heat rocks and formation of
different rocks are conditions. State how rocks using words given:
formed from molten it’s similar to formation of Magma, lava, igneous,
rocks. You must use rocks and record a crystal, basalt, granite,
accurate science verbal description of the pumice, lithosphere,
language. changes. vent, tsunami, plate, and
Create a time line or Describe the rock cycle Label the diagram of the
diary of rock particles in and place the different rock cycle with correct
different types of molten pictures, cards labels and complete the
lava as they form describing the changes cycle so it flows in the
different igneous rocks. in the right order. correct order. Write a
paragraph describing the
order of the formation of
igneous rocks.
Write a science story Follow instructions to Define the following
about the way different show formation of words, use them in a
igneous rocks form in a crystals under different science report on the
volcano like Etna and conditions and describe formation of rocks:
Mid the way the land how it relates to the Magma, lava, igneous,
changes. formation of different crystal, basalt, granite,
igneous rocks. pumice, lithosphere,
vent, tsunami, plate, and
Write a conversation Role-play using the Learn the rock cycle and
between feldspar and cards the rock cycle and from memory draw your
mica as they form convert the role play to a own rock cycle and
igneous rocks in diagram showing the formation of igneous
different conditions and formation of rocks. rocks.
the way the landforms
differ because of the
different rock forms.
Devise a debate on the Devise and enact a play Write a case study
formation of rocks under describing the formation comparison of the Mount
different conditions and of rocks from molten Helens eruption 1980
the possibility of magma inside the Earth and the Peléan eruption
predicting eruptions. to igneous rock on the 1902 describe
surface. similarities and
differences in the
The following uses context, role and audience to changes the level of difficulty:

Activity 1: History as a context for creativity in science:
Using an historical context and working as students of science history and philosophy
examine the development of those ideas such as:

 Aristotle’s evolutionary ladder compared with Darwin’s idea;

 The view of the Solar system from Ptolemy’s time to 1930;

 The atomic model of matter verses a continuous idea of matter;

 The phlogiston idea versus oxidation as an explanation of combustion.

• Research the different points of view and prepare a Compare and Contrast gride to show
similarities and differences in ideas and examine how these ideas influenced further

• The evidence supporting each idea existing at the time and the counter evidence that
lead to a new interpretation.

• Advance opinions on why certain ideas were acceptable at a particular time and what
caused ideas to change.