Cell Division and Cancer Risk

Contributor
HHMI BioInteractive Natalie Dutrow
Type Category
Instructional Materials Assessment Materials
Types
Assessment Item , Article , Data , Graph , Instructor Guide/Manual , Phenomenon
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

Cell Division and Cancer Risk is one of a series of Data Point resources from HHMI Biointeractive. Data Points engage students in analyzing and interpreting data from primary literature in the biological sciences. The resources are intended to provide authentic phenomena to spark student discussion and exploration, but they can also serve as three-dimensional assessment items. In this example, students analyze a scatter plot that represents the relationship between the number of stem cell divisions in human tissues and the lifetime risk of cancer in those tissues. The authors calculated cancer risk based on previously published studies and estimated stem cell divisions based on the number of cells and cell turnover rate in each tissue. The primary source for this Data Point may be found at: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6217/78. (Free registration with AAAS is required for access to this link.)

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • High School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

HS-LS3-2 Make and defend a claim based on evidence that inheritable genetic variations may result from: (1) new genetic combinations through meiosis, (2) viable errors occurring during replication, and/or (3) mutations caused by environmental factors.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using data to support arguments for the way variation occurs.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the phases of meiosis or the biochemical mechanism of specific steps in the process.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the phases of meiosis or the biochemical mechanism of specific steps in the process.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This HHMI Data Point could engage students at the beginning of teaching this performance expectation or as an assessment of the performance expectation. The resource is framed as a discussion starter in which students are asked to make claims in response to prompts provided in the Background Information as they analyze the data shown in the scatter plot and develop an explanation of that data. The Educator Materials provide background for teachers and a set of discussion questions to guide students toward developing an explanation of how random errors in DNA replication during stem cell division can increase the risk of developing cancer. The discussion questions, and the primary article on which this resource is based, contrast these random errors to inherited mutations and mutations caused by environmental factors like smoking.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
This resource engages students in analyzing and interpreting data from a primary source, but it relies heavily on the teacher to facilitate this engagement. Students are provided the scatter plot and brief background information to help them focus on the main idea from the journal article. The Educator Materials provide more extensive background, including a discussion of how correlation coefficients were used to analyze the data in this study. The discussion questions provided in the Educator Materials move from students’ basic interpretation of the graph to asking students to make or evaluate specific claims based on the data provided. Using the statistical information provided, teachers could prompt students to think about issues of causation versus correlation and confidence in the accuracy of claims made in the journal article. Students can also consider the claim, which was highlighted in media coverage of this article, that 65% of US cancer risk is based on “bad luck” mutations, rather than genetic or environmental risk factors.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
This data set highlights consequences, in terms of lifetime cancer risk, of replicative errors that occur during cell division, and the resource compares these errors to inherited mutations and mutations caused by environmental factors. If this resource is used to engage students at the beginning of a learning sequence, then it will be important to engage students in additional learning experiences that build their understanding around this core idea. HHMI’s Click and Learn module, The Eukaryotic Cell Cycle and Cancer (https://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/eukaryotic-cell-cycle-and-cancer), is one resource that would help students understand the regulatory mechanisms whose disruption can lead to cancer. This module would help students understand the mechanism of the causal relationship portrayed in the data set.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
This resource and the primary source upon which it is based are framed around determining causal factors contributing to lifetime cancer risk in the US. The student background information and the discussion questions focus on a series of comparison--small intestine versus large intestine, smokers versus non-smokers, etc.--to help students think through claims about the role of different causal factors, with a primary focus on the role of stem cell divisions in different tissue types. Students will be better able to evaluate these claims if they understand the mechanism of how mutations can disrupt normal cell cycle controls.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This Data Point provides an authentic phenomenon that could anchor a series of three-dimensional learning activities. In this case, an initial discussion would allow the teacher to expose students’ thinking before facilitating students in exploring the phenomenon through additional learning activities. Alternatively, this resource could be used as an assessment item. In either case, the resource should be strengthened by combining it with other learning experiences, such as the Click and Learn module mentioned in the Tips for Including the Disciplinary Core Idea.

  • Instructional Supports: By using authentic data from a primary source, this Data Point provides an excellent, scientifically accurate context in which students can engage in three-dimensional learning to make sense of a phenomenon. The background information and the discussion questions in the Educator Materials are excellent and provide guidance for teachers to support instruction. This resource is written as a discussion prompt, and a whole-class discussion would provide one venue for the teacher to hear student ideas and give feedback on those ideas. However, the resource is not a full lesson. As a result, it does not provide a full range of instructional supports, such as opportunities for students to build on feedback, guidance for differentiation, and scaffolds to support students in engaging in practices or applying crosscutting concepts. The teacher will need to incorporate these supports while building a full instructional sequence around this resource.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Whether it is used formatively or summatively, the Data Point offers an excellent opportunity to gather evidence of students’ three-dimensional learning. A class discussion guided by the provided discussion questions would provide both an learning experience for students and a rich opportunity for informal formative assessment. A more formal assessment might ask students to develop a written explanation of some aspect of the phenomenon presented in the article. For example, Figure 2 from the journal article classifies various tumor types according to whether they primarily result from random errors during replication or from environmental or inherited factors. As an assessment, students might be asked to select a pair of tumor types from this graph and use data from the original scatter plot, along with their understanding of core ideas, to explain why the risk for the selected tumor types varies.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This is not an interactive, technology-based resource.