Looking for suggestions for a high school class

Sciteach45

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Hello,

I teach high school science and want to start a new class that teaches biology concepts through the use of science fiction literature and tv/film media. Kids today don't really read enough and I think this would be a great way to introduce them to the joy of reading.

I have seen several examples online and looked at several college course offerings that are similar and I am getting some great ideas and a few content ideas as well.

For example, teaching about defining life, there are several star trek episodes that deal with silicon based life forms.

Here is a list of the main topics we cover in biology so if something rings a bell please feel free to suggest it as a reading idea. They can be short stories such as Franz Kafkha's Metamorphosis or full books as well such as the Hot Zone.

Diversity and Interdependence of Life
• Classification systems
• Ecosystems
o Homeostasis
Carrying capacity
Equilibrium and disequilibriumCells
• Cell structure and function
o Structure, function and interrelatedness of cell organelles
o Eukaryotic cells and prokaryotic cells
• Cellular processes
o Characteristics of life regulated by cellular processes
o Photosynthesis,
chemosynthesis,
cellular respiration
o Cell division and differentiation
Heredity • Cellular genetics • Structure and function of DNA in cells • Genetic mechanisms and inheritance • Mutations • Modern genetics Evolution • Mechanisms o Natural selection o Mutation o Genetic drift o Gene flow (immigration, emigration) o Sexual selection o History of life on Earth • Diversity of Life o Speciation and biological classification based on molecular evidence o Variation of organisms within a species due to population genetics and gene frequency

Thanks in advance!!!

Sciteach45
 

TheDustyZebra

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A few things come to mind, though I should add a disclaimer regarding my thought processes and the varied paths of my trains of thought. :D

For the "history of life on Earth", Piers Anthony has a series called Geodyssey that takes humans from earliest cave times to post-apocalypse in one family's fictionalized lifetime, with historical notes explaining each stage of human development. Each book does this separately, but they all fit together. It's really quite fascinating. I haven't gotten around to reading the last one yet, which I just discovered recently, but the first ones are Isle of Woman, Shame of Man, Hope of Earth, and Muse of Art, with the last one being Climate of Change.

You might get some interesting genetics discussions out of CJ Cherryh's Cyteen series, involving the breeding of different lines of humans for different jobs, among other things.

I can't help but feel that Flowers for Algernon ought to be in here, but I'm not sure if it's quite in the line that you're looking for.
 

Sciteach45

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A few things come to mind, though I should add a disclaimer regarding my thought processes and the varied paths of my trains of thought. :D

For the "history of life on Earth", Piers Anthony has a series called Geodyssey that takes humans from earliest cave times to post-apocalypse in one family's fictionalized lifetime, with historical notes explaining each stage of human development. Each book does this separately, but they all fit together. It's really quite fascinating. I haven't gotten around to reading the last one yet, which I just discovered recently, but the first ones are Isle of Woman, Shame of Man, Hope of Earth, and Muse of Art, with the last one being Climate of Change.

You might get some interesting genetics discussions out of CJ Cherryh's Cyteen series, involving the breeding of different lines of humans for different jobs, among other things.

I can't help but feel that Flowers for Algernon ought to be in here, but I'm not sure if it's quite in the line that you're looking for.

Thanks for the great ideas! Flowers is on the list regarding the treatment for phenylketonuria (PKU) which is a genetic disorder. It also brings in some ethical questions as well.
The Cyteen series you mention reminds me alot of Huxley's Brave New World. Many students have already read that by high school so this would be a great alternative if it reads like your description.
Thanks again!
 

johnnyjet

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Also Joan Slonczewski's novels A Door into Ocean (1987) and The Highest Frontier (2012). She is a microbiologist and uses a lot of biological science (ecological, genetics) in her works. And she writes great stories as well.
 

Montero

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Julie Czerneda's Species Imperative trilogy. The main character is a marine biologist who studies the behaviour of species, also interaction with ecosystem. I find it very readable. Also gives a good picture of what it is like to do research. (Though with rather fun futuristic equipment.)
 

Mirannan

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One part of the approach might be to ask the students whether they think the various human/alien crossbreeds in SF are reasonable or not, and if not why not. I'm thinking particularly of Star Trek. Another point worth mentioning is the prevalence of "rubber-forehead" humanoid aliens in Hollywood SF.

On the subject of biological contamination, with some fairly convincing science; how about "The Andromeda Strain"?
 

TheDustyZebra

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Thanks for the great ideas! Flowers is on the list regarding the treatment for phenylketonuria (PKU) which is a genetic disorder. It also brings in some ethical questions as well.
The Cyteen series you mention reminds me alot of Huxley's Brave New World. Many students have already read that by high school so this would be a great alternative if it reads like your description.
Thanks again!

Well, that description is only a simplified version of the part that applies to your request -- there's a lot more to it than that! :D I am reminded of the last time I recommended these books to youngsters, so I will add a caveat that there are some sexual issues that some parents might not find appropriate.

How about Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time series? That gets into DNA and cellular-level genetics in a very fantastical way.
 

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