NWABR Bioethics, Day 1


I made it out to Seattle around 8:30 pm last night, and was picked up at the airport by Jeanne Ting Chowning, who is the senior director of the NWABR Bioethics Program.  She pointed out some of the sights along the way, including the Cascades, the Olympic Mountains, and Mount Rainier.  The drive took a little less than two hours, and my dorm was already set up when I arrived at Pack Forest.

Today I started out having breakfast around 8, and chatting with other teachers that had arrived early.  More people kept arriving for the program, and we eventually made our way over to Scott hall for the welcome session and introduction to the program.  We talked about which sites we would be able to visit over the course of the week.

Lunch was delicious, it was chili, backed potatoes, and chicken Caesar salad.  We had a break time, and as always I tried to talk to as many different people as possible.  It seems that no matter which conferences I go to, it is always the same high-quality caliber people that attend.

In the afternoon, we talked about setting norms in the classroom, which I think is really important.  I try to do this at the beginning of the year which my students, and I had some good results this year.  The process we went through helped me think about how to improve this aspect of my teaching, and really get students invested in truly carrying out these norms.

We then went through a series of activities.  First, we compared science and ethics on a scale of 1 (being completely subjective) and 10 (being completely objective).  The class average was around an 8 for science and a 5 for ethics. 

Next, we completed an activity in which we looked at what makes an ethical questions.  I can’t wait to incorporate ethical questions into my classroom, because I think it will help students understandings and justifications for answers.  Furthermore, I am switching to an "Essential Question" based assessment for my class, where students have to make justifications using evidence to formulate a response to the unit essential question.

We ended the day by reviewing a "Pandemic Flu" activity, similar to the lifeboat "who would you save" activity.  There were 10 options, of which you could really only save 5, and you had to pick ethical reasoning for why you would save these individuals.  Themes included "Doing the most good," "Protect the Weakest," "Age, Experience & Knowledge," "Most life potential," and "All life is valuable."

Finally, we reflected on the day in our personal binders, and I’m now waiting until dinner time.  After dinner, we will be taking a hike to Mount Rainier.  I’m very much excited for the rest of the weekend and next week, as it seems like this is catered to Biology and will incorporate well into my classroom!