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An "Eggcellent" Project About Genetic Diseases

Project URL:

How it works:
Students are placed in groups of four, representing a family unit responsible for the care of a baby born with a genetic defect. The teacher can decide which disease the baby has, but the group can also request a specific genetic disease. (The group decides who is in the family unit, though they are equally responsible for the baby's care.)  The students "dress" the baby, which is actually a raw egg  (awards are given for the best-dressed); decorate its "home"; design a birth certificate; and keep a daily log of the baby's care for a week. This includes therapy and other treatments for the disease. The reactions of peers and admirers to the baby's "defect" are also recorded.

The students write various letters: to a scientist researching the disease; from a genetics counselor to the future parents of a child with a defect; for a grant to pursue research about the disease; to a friend telling them about the baby's disease; and from a doctor informing the parents of their baby's disease and its treatment. Each family member writes a different letter. They also research the disease, identify support groups, and investigate the latest treatments and prenatal tests available. All of the above components are then put into either a family album, a PowerPoint presentation, or a web page.

Standards addressed:  
The students read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding; understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science; apply the knowledge and thinking skills of mathematics, science, and technology to address
real-life problems and make informed decisions; and are knowledgeable about and make use of the materials and resources available for participation in the arts in various roles.

Materials used: 
This program requires a computer with Internet access, a printer, drawing materials, decorative papers and fabrics, raw eggs, and Easter-type baskets or containers. A digital
camera is useful for taking photographs of the baby eggs.

The students:
The students participating in this program are advanced eighth graders enrolled in the Regents Living Environment course. The program can, however, be used with any group of students in the ninth grade and above. If the students are not advanced, more class time should be spent helping the students prepare for their final presentation.

Overall value:
An "Eggcellent" Project About Genetic Diseases allows students to experience the responsibility involved in caring for a child with a birth defect, and provides them with a hands-on approach to learning about the more common human genetic diseases. Students enjoy working on this project and the resultant friendly competition encourages them to excel. Other students, teachers, and parents are involved as they are often asked to become "caretakers." Because of the interdisciplinary nature, every student is anxious to participate. 

Students may involve their families as "babysitters." The March of Dimes Foundation can supply information regarding their baby's birth defect.


About the teachers:
Joyce Kent is the biology teacher in an English/Biology partnership and has taught Living Environment/Biology for over 25 years. She has received the Science Teacher of the Year Award from Westchester STANYS and was honored by the Westchester/Rockland Supervisor Association for her innovative science teaching. She is also the recipient of grants administered by Reader's Digest, BOCES, Albert Leonard PTA, and the Teaching Center of New Rochelle.  As a NYS biology mentor, she has given several workshops for teachers in the Hudson Valley area.

Toby Weber is in her twentieth year of teaching Language Arts and has taught all levels from grades 7 - 12.  She was honored last year at the annual NYS English Council Conference as an Educator of Excellence and is in her fourth year of team teaching with Joyce Kent. 


Subject Areas: 
Language Arts

Grade Levels: 


What do you think of my project?  I'd really like to hear your opinion.

Click here for a very brief survey.



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