Genetic tests can be used to determine whether a person is a carrier of a genetic condition – but is having a test always the best thing to do? In this lesson the students are presented with an intriguing dilemma about whether a boy should have a screening test after his fiancée has found out she is a carrier of sickle cell disease. Students use information presented by experts to weigh up the options and come to a reasoned decision.
- Use knowledge about inheritance to interpret genetic diagrams, including family trees.
- Make a decision by identifying issues that need to be considered in choosing to have a genetic test.
Try the activity
England National Curriculum KS3:
- Working Scientifically: Make decisions based on the evaluation of evidence and arguments.
- Biology: Inheritance, chromosomes, DNA and genes: heredity as the process by which genetic information is transmitted from one generation to the next.
GCSE Combined Science subject content:
- Working Scientifically: Development of scientific thinking: explain everyday and technological applications of science; evaluate associated personal, social, economic and environmental implications; and make decisions based on the evaluation of evidence and arguments.
- Biology: Inheritance: explain single gene inheritance, predict the results of single gene crosses.
Running the activity
Engage 1 The students are introduced to Matt’s dilemma and find out about sickle cell disease.
Engage 2 Students arrive at a set of questions that they need to find the answers to in order to make an informed decision.
Explore 1 Students start answering the questions with guidance.
Explore 2 Students work independently to find answers to the remaining questions
Explain As a class, discuss their findings
Evaluate Students make their decision
For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.
The video which introduces the students to Matt’s dilemma.
Video clip which shows first-hand the pain associated with the disease
Liz Aram discusses what happens during a screening test for sickle cell disease.