Posted in Conversation Classes, Listening Classes, TED Talk Lesson Plans

TED Talk, Paul Root Wolpe: Bio-engineering

Image credit: www.ted.com

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This is a new TED talk lesson plan for higher levels (C1+) on the subject of bio-engineering and cloning. Thanks to my colleague Cliff Grossman for recommending this fascinating talk. You can download the materials below:

TED Bio-engineering – Student handout

TED Bio-engineering TEACHER NOTES

Procedure

You can either give students the handout and have them watch the talk and answer the comprehension questions for homework, or do it in class.

Then depending on class size students can ask and answer the discussion questions in small groups or in open class. The topic also lends itself well to debates on GM food, cloning and bioengineering.

Student Handout

Comprehension Questions

  1. What have been the three great stages of evolution?
  2. What are some of the animal hybrids he presents?
  3. What have scientists done with bioluminescent cells from jellyfish?
  4. What does he say about the differences in regulations on genetic modifications between the US and Europe?
  5. Name a few of the animals that have been successfully cloned.
  6. What have scientists managed to do with cockroaches and goliath beetles?
  7. What was so special about the monkey with the prosthetic arm?
  8. What was grown on a mouse’s back?
  9. What is Paul’s view on bio-engineering?
  10. What changes does he predict in the future?

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you think of the talk?
  2. Did you like his presenting style?
  3. What’s your opinion in the different experiments?
  4. Which ones do you find interesting?
  5. Which ones do you think go too far?
  6. What uses can you see for the different bio-engineered animals?
  7. How far do you think we should go?
  8. Should we clone humans?
  9. What problems do you foresee if we were to start cloning humans?
  10. Who should decide the limits of where science can go?
  11. Should people be able to design their own pets/children/bodies?

Language

Look at the language in bold. What do you think it means?

  1. By changing our environment, we put new pressures on our bodies to evolve. Whether it was through settling down in agricultural communities…
  2. So I want to take you through a kind of whirlwind tour of that
  3. Someday, perhaps pretty soon, you will have beefalo patties in your local supermarket.
  4. Dogs are the result of selectively breeding traits that we like.
  5. The scientists that made this cute little creature ended up slaughtering it and eating it afterwards.
  6. We had to do it the hard way in the old days by choosing offspring that looked a particular way and then breeding them.
  7. What are the ethical guidelines that we will use then?

Key

Comprehension Questions

    1. What have been the three great stages of evolution? 1st: Darwinian evolution 2nd: humans changing their environment by forming civilisation 3rd: Evolution by design (bio-engineering)
    2. What are some of the animal hybrids he presents? Liger, geep, zorse, beefalo, cama,
  • What have scientists done with bioluminescent cells from jellyfish? Made animals that glow in the dark

 

  1. What does he say about the differences in regulations on genetic modifications between the US and Europe? Regulations are much stricter in Europe
  2. Name a few of the animals that have been successfully cloned. Sheep, pigs, rats, cats, dogs, horses, wolves, cows.
  3. What have scientists managed to do with cockroaches and goliath beetles? Made them remoted-controlled
  4. What was so special about the monkey with the prosthetic arm? It learned to move its new prosthetic arm using just its brain signals meaning that it effectively has three independent arms.
  5. What was grown on a mouse’s back? A human ear
  6. What is Paul’s view on bio-engineering? He is worried about its implications and thinks we have to be very careful.
  7. What changes does he predict in the future? Human cloning and designer pets or even babies.

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you think of the talk?
  2. Did you like his presenting style?
  3. What’s your opinion in the different experiments?
  4. Which ones do you find interesting?
  5. Which ones do you think go too far?
  6. What uses can you see for the different bio-engineered animals?
  7. How far do you think we should go?
  8. Should we clone humans?
  9. What problems do you foresee if we were to start cloning humans?
  10. Who should decide the limits of where science can go?
  11. Should people be able to design their own pets/children/bodies?

Language

Look at the language in bold. What do you think it means?

  1. By changing our environment, we put new pressures on our bodies to evolve. Whether it was through settling down in agricultural communities… (to stop travelling and stay in one place to live)
  2. So I want to take you through a kind of whirlwind tour of that (a very quick tour seeing the most important places)
  3. Someday, perhaps pretty soon, you will have beefalo patties in your local supermarket. (hamburgers)
  4. Dogs are the result of selectively breeding traits that we like. (characteristics)
  5. The scientists that made this cute little creature ended up slaughtering it and eating it afterwards. (kill an animal for food)
  6. We had to do it the hard way in the old days by choosing offspring that looked a particular way and then breeding them. (biological term for children)
  7. What are the ethical guidelines that we will use then? (moral rules)
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Author:

Barcelona based English Teacher, blogger and sometime actor and director.

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