FASTLY - Faith & Science Teaching

Part 3: Big Questions


2. Investigation

Introducing the Theme

The goal of the topics in this theme is to connect big questions about the nature of science and its role in our lives to a specific complex issue of your choosing. For this class session, students will do this by reading and examining a curated collection of articles.

Choose a theme for this sequence related to a specific area of applied scientific advancement. Our pilot school chose the theme of genetic modification, focusing on genetic modification in humans. Other possible subtopics within genetic modification include:

  • Designer babies
  • GMO

Once you have your theme, curate a collection of three to four well-informed online articles on the topic that raise ethical and philosophical questions. Using those that address a range of specific theme-related subtopics creates space for students to consider broad principles that may cut across specific instances.

Have students read each of the articles and annotate them with their initial questions and comments. This can be done for homework and/or in teams in class.

Note that topics of this nature also provide excellent opportunities for cross-curricular work with other school departments in a variety of ways:

  • Working with literature teachers to connect this theme to literary texts.
  • Having students write essays on the theme for a composition class.
  • Finding themes in Bible class that might connect to your topic.
  • Combining class sessions and/or team teaching.

Working in this way can make these connections explicit for students and help them synthesize information, while also enhancing the dialogue within your school.

Once students have read the articles you assigned, you can conduct the activity Science, Technology, and Motives, which introduces distinctions between basic science, applied science, and technology. It engages students in exploring how each of these relates to faith-informed motivations.

After this activity, refer back to the articles, asking students to identify which issues in the articles are matters of basic science, applied science, or technology. You can use this discussion to:

  • Check in with students about whether these distinctions are clear.
  • Help students clarify how science, applied science, and technology are connected.
  • Show students how ethical issues arise as scientific ideas are applied.
  • Explore how ethical issues are involved in the development of technologies.

After the discussion, you can give students about five minutes of class time to write a journal response to the question: “What are the ethical, philosophical, or theological implications of this scientific development?”

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