Science Forward Fall 2017

Dr. Edyta Greer, Macaulay Honors College, Fall 2017

Category: Assignments (page 1 of 2)

Blog Entry 2: Thinking About Lab

For your second blog post, please reflect a bit on the following points, and answer as a unified post (don’t answer in bullet points).

  • What, in your opinion, is the purpose of doing a lab in school?
  • A lab is a very controlled environment – you are typically not designing the experiment and there is typically an expected result. Is this pedagogically useful? Why or why not?
  • Are labs necessary for a non-specialist science course like ours? Why or why not?
  • What do you hope to gain from the lab experience?
  • What would a “lab” in a non-science course be like? For example, in a history course or an American literature course, what sort of thing would fulfill the same role as the science lab?
  • Why can’t you use the same style of academic writing that you would for an English or history class on a lab report?

Micromonospora Echinospora

Micromonospora Echinospora  is a strain of bacteria which can be found in both soil and water.  Micromonospora Echinospora does not have a common name and it helps produce an antibiotic called Calicheamicin.  Calicheamicin is used as an anti-tumor reagent.  It is an extremely potent antibiotic which is toxic to bacteria, fungi, viruses, and eukaryotic cells and organisms so in order for it to be beneficial it must be targeted at the cancer cells. Calicheamicin is produced by taking an isolated nucleic acid molecule from Micromonospora echinospora.

Article Blog Entry 1

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter because I am thoroughly confused by the article “The New Mystery-Maybe Miracle-Drug.”  While it is clear to me that there were very serious studies conducted on prostaglandins it seems to me that this articles spreads itself too thin.  After reading the article I am not sure that any conclusions were made about what prostaglandins can actually accomplish, but rather I feel as though I have learned about the potential of what prostaglandins may accomplish.  This article written in 1971 would be compose fairly differently had it been written in today’s day and age.   If the article was written in 2017 it would be more likely be written about a single study using prostaglandins that discussed the potential of prostaglandins in one area and would come to a more concrete conclusion.

I gathered that prostaglandins may be very useful with abortion, heart problems, and in other areas as well, but it was not made clear as to what the use of prostaglandins would be most effective for and whether or not anything has definitively worked.  I understand that this article was written to explain all of the potential that a drug like this might have, but based off of the research I did for my Hot Topic presentation I believe that popular articles nowadays seem to have more concrete facts and don’t allow so many things to be left open.  While this article referenced many studies that were conducted using the 3 science senses it did not seem like those studies were ever officially closed.  For a long period of time the article was mainly focused on abortion, but all of the sudden it kicked into a whole different gear and started discussing other areas where the drug might come in good use.  I believe that abortion is a large enough topic that it could warrant its own article.  I think that since the New York Times is a popular media reference it would have been easier for readers to understand the article had it focused on one topic.

The article also failed to come to a concrete conclusion.  When starting to read the article, I was hoping that the prostaglandins would officially be in use to cure something, or to help mankind in some way.  However, I left learning that prostaglandins have tremendous potential and scientists are still trying to find exactly the ways to best utilize them for a powerful drug which may be able to do a variety of things.  I understand that various studies were conducted, and I understand that this drug can have major implications, but why write the article before we even know exactly how the drug can help us.  I feel as though if no drug was created at the end of the day because scientists were unable to find a proper use then this article provided a lot of false hope.  The author did not make the article hard to understand necessarily, but the way the article bounced back and forth and the formatting of the article made it unclear what the main use of this drug would be.

Overall, I believe that this article should have been edited further and specified exactly what the main purpose of this drug will be and I feel as though this article should have been written using a different more structured format in order for the audience to greater understand what has come out of these studies and what the goals are for the future.


Thank you,

Evan Harris

Blog Entry 1 – DUE by Sunday Oct. 1

We have been studying the ways that science is reported in mainstream publications such as newspaper or other general readership media. We have also spent this week talking a bit about molecular theory and the history of drug synthesis in healthcare. Please read the article below, which was published in the New York Times in December 1971, and write a post on our ePortfolios site that reacts to the article based on what we’ve done in class so far this semester. Think especially about the three science senses (Knowledge Sense, Data Sense, Number Sense).

Download (PDF, 769KB)

Citation: Galton, Lawrence. 1971. “The New Mysters—Maybe Miracle—Drug.” New York Times (December 5).

Your reaction post should engage with at least one specific part of this article, but can also comment on it more broadly. Some possible things to consider are:

  • writing style of the author
  • amount and level of technicality of scientific information
  • why the author included molecular drawings and whether they are important to the article
  • who the intended audience is
  • how well does the article reflect the science it’s based on (this will require you to find the primary literature journal articles that are mentioned in the article)
  • whether this kind of article would work in a publication like the Times today

Do not summarize the article or explain its contents, and do not answer all of the above prompts, rather, these are just intended to get you thinking and offer some possible routes. We are more interested in a post that shows critical engagement about some aspect of this article and scientific thinking, rather than one that touches on many different points but in a superficial way. You can also experiment with different kinds of writing — for example, imagine you are writing a letter to the editor of the Times in response to this article. You do not need to cite the article, but if you would like to quote something from it, just use quotation marks.

Due by Sunday night, 8pm.

TO SUBMIT: Create a new post with the category “Blog Entry 1.” If you do not use this category, then we will not be able to read your entry.

EpiPen Paraphrase Exercise

Allergies are the cause of great concern in many schools across the United States. As we continue to designate nut-free zones in cafeterias, and ban latex balloons from school grounds, a question remains: what happens if a severe allergic reaction occurs? In the most severe of cases where a person’s airway is closing, antihistamines like Benadryl won’t do the trick. In that case, epinephrine is the life saving drug that needs to be administered immediately. An EpiPen is an epinephrine auto-injector, available in most schools, that makes it simple and relatively harmless to inject epinephrine. One of the major problems, however, is that many times the emergency action plans of nurses conflict with set guidelines, leading to ineffective and under-treatment of sever allergic reactions (Wahl et al. 2015, 97). To fix this critical problem, nurses must be trained to use EpiPens, so that they may respond effectively and without delay or confusion. This would allow to keep our children safe from fatal allergic reactions while on school grounds, and ease some of our concern.

Paraphrase Exercise

It is the responsibility of school nurses to respond appropriately when a child suffers an allergic reaction from an unknown allergen. Unfortunately, conflicting policies between health care providers and the school district may cause confusion and therefore increase the child’s risk of anaphylaxis. Increasing the use of epinephrine as a treatment in schools has the potential to decrease that risk, and ensure the children’s safety while in school.

(Wahl et al. 2015, 97)

Paraphrase Exercise

Allergies present a common problem in many schools that can potentially have severe implications. For this reason, many schools deem it necessary to have emergency plans in place to care for those with known allergies; this responsibility commonly falls on school nurses. However, recent studies have shown that emergency response plans laid out by the school are not always followed. This can be attributed to one of several factors: “a lack of prescribed medication, calling parents or health care providers first, or because the reaction was to an unknown allergen.” (Wahl et al. 2015, 97) This presents a major threat to the safety of children in schools, to which training is the most viable solution. Educating school nurses on the causes and treatments of common allergic reactions would benefit students who are prone to allergic reactions, and the emergency officials who must promptly and properly respond to them.

Paraphrasing Exercise

Recent studies confirm the importance of school nurses, faculty, and staff properly knowing how to respond to incidences of anaphylactic shock. When dealing with younger students especially, a reaction to a previously unknown allergen may occur at any time. However, school nurses have to reconcile health care providers’ specific emergency action plan for their patients with the school standards and the “American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology guidelines.”  The differences between the two guidelines can create confusion and lead to an inappropriate treatment for many students (Wahl et al. 2015,97).

Paraphrase Exercise

When a child in school has an allergic reaction to something he or she was exposed to for the first time, it is important that the adults around that child know how to react. In these cases the child may not have prescribed medication and the parents may be unavailable, therefore it is important that proper medical emergency plans are in place. Furthermore, all faculty and staff should be prepared to enact these emergency plans because there is no telling when these emergencies will occur. In order to ensure their readiness for emergencies the staff should be learn how to use an EpiPen through hands on training administered by the school nurse. In order for the nurse to be able to provide this kind of demonstration and training they must have the proper resources and the time. (Wahl et. al, 2017, 97)

Paraphrase Excercise

Studies have found that those who work with children should be trained by a nurse on how to react in case of an allergic reaction. This can lead to “increased knowledge about food allergies” and allow in the prevention and quick action upon them (Wahl et al. 2015,97). The study found that often times measures were in place to react to food allergies however treatment was delayed for a variety of reasons. As such, nurses should have the time to train all professionals working with children on how to respond.

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