Today, my students and I were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Dr. Aaron Goodarzi and his research team at the Heritage Medical Research Centre in the Foothills Hospital. “The technological age has seen humans increasingly exposed to sources of DNA-damaging [ionization] radiation” guides the research conducted by Dr. Goodarzi and his team with the Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute.
This field trip was used as an introduction to the Cells and Systems unit. The students were given an incredibly unique and engaging experience extracting DNA from strawberries, viewing cancer cells (HeLa cells) under a microscope and discussing real life experiences that expose them to radiation and could put them at risk of cancer. Given that I teach grade 8, the content matter was naturally a concern. Fortunately, all presenters were able to bring the content to a grade 8-level making it easy for the students to understand and engage in. The way the information was presented allowed students to understand the content being presented, but left them with a desire for more information. We will continually refer back to this field trip through the upcoming unit of study to answer the wonderings students still have upon returning to school. Prior to the field trip there was an excited buzz in the hallways for the field trip, and the buzz was only escalated upon our return. Upon arriving back at school, students were asking intellectual questions based on what they had learned today and were in constant conversation with one another around the various topics.
As a teacher, I love seeing students get excited and engaged in their learning, through hands-on experiences and that we are able to give students the opportunity to take their learning outside of the classroom. This field trip exposed students to very real issues, that many of them have had to deal with, and provided them with explanations for why people get cancer. After hearing one of the researchers discussing Henrietta Lacks with the students, I would love to do a book study (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) with my students, during our daily reading period to connect science/non-fiction with literature.
As a class, we are extremely grateful of Dr. Goodarzi and all those involved in making today’s field trip exciting and engaging.
Until next time,