Enabling students to understand and analyse contemporary issues in science and technology

Activities for Cells, chemicals and the mind

Here are activities to help with the teaching of this topic.

Celebration of the brain: normal brain function
This activity asks students to think about the wide range of functions carried out by the human brain, as an introduction to the topic.
Teacher notes and student sheets (1.6 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (65 KB)

Neurons and their interactions
In this activity students review the structure and function of nerve cells (neurons) and synapses using simple practical models. They test their reaction times and compare results.
Teacher notes and student sheets (4.1 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (155 KB)

Parkinson’s Disease
This activity is a role play exercise about someone who is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It aims to make students aware of the wide range of people who might be involved with a patient and of the many factors, both medical and social, that have to be considered when making decisions.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.6 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (55 KB)

Cannabis and the Law
This activity is about government decision making. It considers recent events in the reclassification of cannabis. Students look at the 2008 report to the Home Secretary from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). They consider some of the evidence used and the role of different interests groups in the decision making.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.0 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (74 KB)

Exam style question - Drugs and the brain
This question is about the addictive effects of smoking and examines science explanations and Causal Links HSW ideas. It is similar in style to some of the exam questions in Unit 3, though longer.
Teacher notes and student sheets (1.5 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (65 KB)

Exam Style question - Drug classification
This question is about decision making and the limited relationship between the estimated harm from certain drugs and their classification in the UK. It is similar in style to the longer question in Section B at the end of the Unit 3 exam paper.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.2 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (82 KB)

Diagnosing depression
This activity uses depression as an example to introduce some of the difficulties involved in making reliable diagnoses of mental illnesses. Students read and discuss fictitious case studies about five students and look at the criteria used for screening for depression. The activity highlights why good criteria for depression matter. Part 2 explains how diagnostic criteria have changed over time through reading and discussion of questions.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.0 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (101 KB)

Treating depression
This activity is about some of the treatments available to those diagnosed with depression. It considers the theories behind the therapies and looks at research data, comparing different therapies using questions, discussion and data analysis.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.7 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (88 KB)

Problem based learning – ADHD
This is a problem based learning activity. Students will work in groups to understand a scenario and the questions that need answering in order to plan a response. They will need to explore their understanding of the neurotransmitter dopamine and to apply a range of ideas about how science works, learned at AS, to more complex information. These ideas include the balance of risks and benefits of different treatments and the social influences on the different scientific explanations for ADHD.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.6 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (70 KB)

Code of conduct for scientists
Should scientists be responsible for the effects of their research on society? Do they have a responsibility to other scientists? What ethical codes should scientists adhere to? In this activity students read three case studies and answer questions about them. They are then asked to look at a newly established code of conduct for scientists and relate it to the case studies.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.0 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (59 KB)

Case study – propranolol for PTSD?
This activity is designed to help students prepare for the Unit 4 assessment. It is shorter than the exam and uses only two articles with the option of a third to help with the last question. The main focus will be on helping students to look at the scientific paper and extract some of the important features that are relevant to how science works.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.7 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (67 KB)
Case study article - Effect of post-retrieval propanolol on psychophysiologic responding during subsequent script-driven traumatic imagery in post-traumatic stress disorder (151 KB)