Blizzard Bag C Block Honors Bio Day 1

Blizzard Bag Lesson Plan 1:
The First Synthetic Cell

     This year in Biology we have covered the characteristics of what make a living organism. Our definition of what it means to be living might start to change. Recently Craig Venter and his team of researchers have created the first synthetic cell.  This bacterium uses the membrane, cytoplasm, and organelles of naturally occurring bacteria but its genome has been completely replaced with an artificial chromosome designed by the scientists. Why do this? Several papers and magazines have looked into this research and that question. Today I would like you to investigate this discovery and discuss its potential and possible consequences.

Step1: Watch this video 60 minutes produced about Craig Venter and his research


If the link doesn’t work, Google “Craig Venter 60 Minutes” and you should be able to easily find it.


Step 2: Read ONE of the following articles on the first synthetic cell.

New York Times article on the first synthetic cell:

BBC article on the discovery of the fist synthetic cell:

The original scientific article in Science :

New York Times article focusing Craig Venter

Step 3: Post a short one or two paragraph reflection on the video and article in the comment section below this blog post. You might want to discuss or try to answer one of the following questions in your post.
  • Do you think the benefits of this technology are worth the risks?
  • Who, if anyone, should decide if this research and technology should continue?
  • What rules or regulations would you put into place to protect the environment?  Should there be any?
  • What other “bugs” (bacteria) can you imagine creating to solve a modern day problem?
  • Are there any other potential problems with this technology you can think of not mentioned in the video or articles?
  • Do you think this bacterium should truly be called synthetic? Why or why not?
  • Would you as a consumer use products made from or using these organisms?  Why or why not?

Step 4: Respond to at least one of the posts by your classmates. You can ask a question or make a follow-up statement. Be polite in your discussion and respect everyone’s opinions even if you are in disagreement.

Grading: This lesson will be graded as a classwork assignment. 50 points will be awarded for your original reflection, and another 50 points for your response to your classmates post. 




38 comments:

  1. As a consumer I don't think I would use products from these organisms. I don't think I would be able to trust these organisms. They are man made and they SAY they can help all of these things in the future, I see that as a bias statement. There are still risks with these organisms so why trust it in medicine or shots? I don't think it can be guaranteed as safe. There's no way to be 100% sure.

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    1. All technology has risks associated with it. What risk do you think is the greatest? Are there ways to minimize the risks?

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    2. I also agree but if synthesized DNA it headed towards what the scientists want then it will be in most things so we might end up having to use the products

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    3. I agree with Mr. Fuller on the fact that all new technology has its risks. Because of this I think that more research needs to be done, so we can be 100% sure that this technology is safe. Also, I think that the benefits are worth the risks.

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    4. I also do believe that risks can with the package deal of new technology. Overall I believe this might be a huge breakthrough in biology, but as well as Janis mentioned we need to do much more further research , because we aren't quite there with the positivity of these experiments.

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  4. Okay, I think that from a scientists view the benefits outweigh the risks because you could create a vaccine in hours instead of years or months. Also with synthesized DNA you could program the cell to do what you want

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  6. I think that even though there are risks, the benefits of this technology is worth it. New vaccines that take a long time to make can be made faster. New fuel from algae that is better for the environment is also being researched to be made. People seemed to be concerned that this is bad for the environment, but it can be used to help the environment. Also, by creating DNA the bacteria can do whatever the scientists want it to do. I think there needs to be more research done before this is something that is used regularly, but I think it has a lot of potential. Synthesized DNA could solve a lot of problems like illnesses or environment problems.

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    1. I agree with you, Janis. I think there are so many benefits to be had from this technology, and Craig made a good point to say that editing the genome is a necessity to the continuation of growth in our society. With that being said, there are many risks to take into consideration with this powerful technology. I do believe there needs to be a lot more research done, and scientists should continue evaluating the risks and benefits of this.

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  7. The benefits of this technology is worth it, because creating this new fuel could change the way technology runs. Along with the that the scientific advances that are trying to give us a healthier environment can change our society for the better in the future and keep the planet habitable. Synthesizing DNA could be the next huge step for illnesses as well. We could end up curing illnesses faster and more efficiently. This new technology is worth the risk.

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    1. I do agree with your statement, but at the same time what are the risks? How bad could the risks be and could more risks come into play. I do agree that the benefits of this technology is to good to give up, but are all of the risks worth it?

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  8. There are risks and benefits to the synthesizing of cells as there are with anything, we just have to ask ourselves if it's worth the risk. I think that this technology is worth it, there are so many benefits to be had. We must start to take into consideration that we are not the only humans who will walk this Earth, and that we must preserve it for our children and their children. If we can cure illnesses and keep our planet healthier, it's not something to overlook. However, scientists must continue to research this technology, as it is very powerful and can cause serious unintended effects.

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