They are the sort of timely, complicated, and controversial science topics that can enthrall students—and bedevil teachers. When the subject is bioethics, many students bring strong opinions to class. Teachers want to channel that passion into scientifically literate discussions, but sometimes don’t know how.
Now, the National Institutes of Health is trying to help them. The federal agency has awarded a two-year contract to the Education Development Center, a nonprofit organization with headquarters in Boston, to craft a bioethics curriculum for use in high schools. The EDC, which focuses on K-12 education, early-childhood development, and health issues domestically and abroad will receive $759,000 for its work. The curriculum will be a supplement to biology textbooks, and will be free to districts across the country.
Numerous nonprofit organizations and universities in recent years have set up Web sites and written materials to provide guidance to science teachers on discussing bioethics topics. (“Science Teachers Learning to Tackle Thorny Issues Inherent in Subject,” July 26, 2006.)
This new project, financed by the NIH’s office of science education, will encourage students to develop deeper biological and overall scientific thinking when considering issues such as clinical trials, vaccination policies, the overall nature of bioethics, EDC officials said in a statement. The curricular materials are expected to be field-tested next fall.
A version of this article appeared in the December 06, 2006 edition of Education Week