BIOLOGY - or - How does disability happen?
Medicine has a specific role in defining disability in terms of measurable
differences from the nondisabled norm. Too often these basic facts are
laden with negative values about people whose bodies are different from
the norm. The EDGE Biology module uses
the factual information about human body differences but puts it into
a non-judgmental context. Principles of genetic variation and the biological
result of spinal cord injury are taught with the same value as eye color
Activity section, students map out the
genetic pattern of hereditary deafness. Resource links are provided
so that students can continue learning factual information and to read
interviews of scientists with disabilities and of people living with
these disabilities. (see Lesson Plan Content)
Genetic Science Learning Center - http://gslc.genetics.utah.edu/
SOME NOTABLE PEOPLE
Michael Ain, M.D. - Surgeon with Dwarfism
Burke - Actor with Down Syndrome
BEFORE USING THE BIOLOGY MODULE
- Have students discuss the following: "If I found out during
pregnancy that my baby might have a disability, I would …" Help
the students to identify sources of their opinions - media, medical
information, etc. Ask if any of their opinions are based on direct
information from people with genetic disabilities.
- Have the students make a list of disabilities that have a genetic
root Ask them also to identify other traits like height, eye color
or hair texture that might have genetic roots. Ask them to identify
people who have those disabilities.
AFTER USING THE BIOLOGY MODULE
- Have the students write about the new information they learned
from using the Biology module. Have
them include not only facts but also people living with genetic-based
- Have the students interview people living with either a genetic-based
disability or a spinal cord injury. What did they learn from their
interviews? How did it change their opinions about having those
- Have students contrast the lives of people born with a disability
compared to someone who acquired a disability through spinal cord
injury- using real life examples from research on the web or interviews.
LESSON PLAN AND CONTENT
This lesson is divided into two sections. The first looks at chromosomes
and how differences in them create different body configurations. In
this section we study both the basics
of genetics as well as the implications of genetic difference. In the
second section we explore injuries
to the spinal cord and the implications of those injuries.
In the genetic disorders lesson, the activity
is focused on trying to figure out the pattern of genetic mutation in
a family. This activity is offered in three ways: two "easier, quicker
versions" one is graphic based and the other is text based, and a "more
challenging version". This allows a greater variety of students to participate
at their own level. The focus is on trying to solve the genetic pattern
in hereditary deafness within this family.
spinal cord lesson, the activity
is a roll-over of a spinal cord. For each section (cervical, thoracic,
lumbar and sacral) a description of the implications of injury to that
level is explained.
In the Self-Test students are able to
assess the level of their understanding of both the lesson and the accompanying
activities. In eight multiple choice questions students get immediate
feedback on their answers.
Within each area there are separate resources. The genetic disorders
People Resources include: general,
deafness, Down syndrome, sickle cell, and other genetic disorders. The
spinal cord section includes people
with varying levels of spinal cord injuries as well as some in-utero
spinal injuries, such as spina bifida.
for further learning
The genetic disorders Resources
include categories for: general, deafness, Down syndrome, sickle cell,
and other genetic disorders. The spinal cord Resources
include information on pain, media, and wheelchair building.
- Part 5.3 - Government