Scientific Discovery and Development
This course teaches students about careers in laboratory science while simultaneously instructing them on major concepts in the biological sciences. The curriculum is quite comprehensive and is spread over five units:
- Unit One begins with a history of clinical laboratory science, which covers two lessons. These lessons lay the groundwork by explaining how clinical laboratories evolved and became professionalized and how scientific discoveries and breakthroughs fueled the development of the laboratory while the sub-disciplines in biology were also advancing. The science covered in the first unit includes immunology, the circulatory system, and the blood-bank system.
- Unit Two touches on the circulatory system and gives more detailed instruction on microbiology and the subfields within it.
- Unit Three covers cells and tissues and includes discussion of cell division as well as basic genetics.
- Unit Four launches into research. A brief history of the philosophy of science is provided to students, along with an explication of the scientific method. The unit goes on to teach the difference between basic and applied research. This unit also covers three major areas in bioresearch: biotechnology, nanotechnology, and pharmaceutical research and development.
- Unit Five culminates with research in the social science that is something of a hybrid, since the topics cross over into science. Emphasis is put on the interdisciplinary nature of this type of research. The last few lessons in the unit raise the controversial issues of embryonic stem-cell research and the problems raised by outsourcing clinical research. The final lesson gives students a chance to catch their breath and do some exercises that can help them find a career path they are interested in.
The writer has taken pains to make the course interesting and relevant. You will notice that many of the introductory sections use cutting edge scientific breakthroughs, facts, stories, and anecdotes. Liberal use has been made of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Richard Dawkins has also been tapped, along with the latest popular news about mitochondrial DNA and similar subjects. The course writer also keeps the level of content high while at the same time writing in an accessible and understandable style so that students can grasp the material. Still, it is a lot of material to grasp, and no doubt they will benefit from additional instruction that may be provided by their teacher. Students should come away from this course with a solid understanding of what goes on in a laboratory. Some of the science material will be new to some students, and for advanced students, some of the material may be review. But for the majority of students, the science content will be interesting and challenging.
- Compare and contrast a variety of careers in the clinical laboratory and in research and development as to job description, education, training, certification, and licensure, and work environment
- Evaluate the legal and ethical considerations inherent to professions in the clinical laboratory and in research and development
- Summarize the pros and cons of controversial issues in medical research, such as stem cell research and the double standards for human subjects research in developing countries, and formulate a position based on a variety of sources
- Review human anatomy and physiology as it pertains to the circulatory system and immunology, as well as basic cell biology, and genetics
- Describe the major historical events in the development of the field of clinical laboratory science as we know it today
Scientific Discovery Course Requirements
Students will need an Internet connection, pen and paper, and a computer that they can use every day. It would be helpful if the teacher spends some time teaching or reviewing the skill of Internet research—specifically, how to separate the wheat from the chaff. The course makes liberal use of Internet websites and encourages students to do so as well. Projects are a mix of formats, including some dry labs, but many of them will be challenging, and students will need to do research to complete them. (If the teacher has access to a wet lab, some of the projects can be adapted; the teacher may also want to augment the course with his or her own wet labs if a lab is available.)The course includes quite a bit of writing, including formal essay and research paper writing. Again, it would be helpful for the teacher or a librarian to go over the basics of paraphrasing, quoting, rules about avoiding plagiarism, and the like. Students will need to choose a stylebook. The MLA or APA stylebook would probably be most appropriate. APA is often used for the sciences.
Students should have access to a biology and anatomy textbook, at a minimum. They do not need to carry textbooks around, but they should be able to use textbooks as an additional resource when they need further explanation or clarification. Of course, their teacher will also be a resource.
This course probably would work best with students who have already had a course in basic biology. However, that is not an absolute prerequisite.