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Last Updated: Friday November 28 2008 17:11 GMT

Cloning

Citizenship Scientific Development

The frozen mice scientists used to clone another mouse

Overview
Japanese scientists have successfully cloned mice from dead mice that have been frozen for 16 years.

In the past, sheep, horses and even a pet dog have all been cloned from living animals. Now scientists have found a way to clone dead animals, as long as their remains have been frozen.

How would students feel about having a clone?

Learning aims
  • What a clone is
  • Whether cloning is ethical
  • Science brings challenges and rewards

Icebreaker

What is cloning?
A clone is a copy of a living organism. Identical twins are naturally occurring clones, and plants are often clones of their parent.

Imagine you had a clone
If students had a clone of themselves what would they use it for - It looks and sounds exactly like them!

List five things the clone could do e.g.

• Send it to school in your place

• Make it do chores

• Teach year nine etc

How many of the activities are enjoyable?

Give themselves marks out of five. The clone looks like them, it sounds like them but as it is an exact copy it also feels like them. How will it feel when it has finished the five tasks it was set? Write an answer in one word.

Was it fair to treat the clone like that?

Explain that one reason that some people oppose clone research is that clones may be treated badly.

Main activity


Should scientists be allowed to experiment with cloning humans?
At the moment mainstream scientists are not cloning whole human beings, just their cells. They use the cells for research into cancer and AIDS, which is beneficial to humanity.

One problem is that groups like the Raelian cult do want to clone a human being. An argument used against cloning cells is that it is a 'slippery slope' that will lead to cloning of people.

Balance the arguments for and against
In this exercise the conclusion is less important than how it is arrived at, students see the arguments on both sides.

On a piece of paper draw six triangles, about the size and shape of a cheese triangle. These form the base of six see-saws. By drawing a plank across the base students can balance two arguments, or one can outweigh the other. Which way the balance falls is up to the students, they must justify in a sentence or verbally their decision. The pairs of arguments are taken from the lists below.

  • Human cloning is inevitable. A ban won't stop it, just force it underground.
  • Cloned cells could be used to develop a cure for cancer.
  • Cloned cells could get rid of the need for animals in experiments.
  • Cloning would help infertile couples have babies.
  • Cloned organs could be used for transplants.
  • Allowing the cloning of cells does not have to lead to cloning people.
  • Cloning could go wrong and produce deformed offspring.
  • Most cloned animals die before they are born.
  • Cloned people may be discriminated against.
  • An army of clones could be produced to fight wars.
  • Cloning makes us all less special (replaceable).
  • Clones could be cleverer and stronger than us, and take over

Extension activity


You are back with your clone from the first exercise, it is like you in every way, but has none of your memories, as these can not be copied.

You take it on a tour of five special places from your childhood. At each place say what happened there and why it was important to you. Can the clone ever share your memory?

Plenary

Recap what cloning is and why it is an important issue, take a floor vote to see if the research should continue, remind students that there is no proof that any scientists are cloning people yet.

Teachers' Background

  • Human somatic cell nuclear transfer is the correct term for creating an embryo by cloning.
  • The egg cell first has its nucleus removed. The nucleus is replaced with DNA any other cell.
  • Hundreds of mammals have been cloned so far but most attempts fail during pregnancy, there are many birth defects.
  • Dolly the sheep was cloned by PPL therapeutics in Roslyn, Scotland - they tried over 250 times before it worked.
  • Critics of cloning fear that it will result in designer babies.
  • The study of these issues is called Bio-ethics.


For all links and resources click at top right.


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