The Power of Choice: How Environment Can Change Our Genes and Our Lives

Shauna McCarthy Howell, Science, Starmount Academy

Curriculum Unit (pdf)


This unit is a multidisciplinary unit with an integration of science, health/nutrition, ELA, and civics.  Students will begin by learning about inherited, acquired, and learned characteristics and behaviors.  Then, we will move into nutrition and some basic epigenetics effects, such as the impact of maternal nutrition on her developing fetus.  The overarching theme for the unit is choice.  Students should understand they can make choices now that will affect their health in the present and future, and possibly affect the health of their offspring.  We will examine our school’s lunch menu for the month and see where healthier choices could be incorporated.

The unit will then transition to identifying a local representative that may be able to help our students make healthy changes in their school cafeteria.  The culminating project will be to write persuasive letters to the representative to persuade him/her to help our cause.  A rubric will outline requirements. Students will share the writing process together to ensure we write clear, effective arguments with a unified purpose.