Frontiers: Intro to Cancer Unit
This is a cancer unit, intended for high school biology classes, focused on cell growth, cell cycle, and mutations. Over eleven lessons, students investigate the case of Hina Marsey, an eleven-year old girl, who is diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. As the unit unfolds, students develop conceptual models on cell growth, cancer, and treatments for leukemia. The unit builds toward a wet lab in which students conduct an ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay) to find a final match.
The unit is organized into two conceptual bends: Part 1: How is Hina’s illness affecting her body? unfolds over six lessons that are focused on understanding Hina’s story and how her doctors are able to diagnose her blood cancer. Students develop an understanding of cell growth, the cell cycle, and differentiation of blood cells. In the five lessons that make up
Part 2: How can Hina’s cancer be cured?, students are introduced to different forms of cancer treatments, before diving deeper into how chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants (including the process of matching donors with recipients) help patients, like Hina, who have leukemia. Students also conduct a gel electrophoresis lab focused on Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) typing.