Gattaca (1997)
Concept featured in clip: Genetics, genetic engineering of humans
Location of clip: DVD: 0:10:57 - 0:12:34


Play Flickclip Here

Summary of clip: This flickclip depicts two parents talking with a genetic counselor in terms of the traits their genetically engineered child will have once it is born. The parents are assured that "all prejudiciously biased traits have been irradicated."
Connection of flickclip to the concept: This flickclip is a terrific way to begin a unit on genetic engineering and its potential effects on humans. The flickclip makes the concept come alive and really makes students think about this developing technology.
Suggestions to teachers:
1. Suggested questions for students when viewing the clip:

a. Genetic engineering has the potential to change the human species like nothing else before. How far should this technology be used for humans? Should it cure disease? Make designer babies? Where is the line scientists should not cross?

b. Do you think that humans will ever get to the point where there are designer babies? How soon do you predict this to happen?

c. Do you think genes have total control on us? What part of the environment helps to create who we are?

d. In order to spur on a real discussion, pose the question "OK, so you don't believe in choosing the sex of the baby, its eye color, its hair color, etc.? Then, why aren't you attracted to just any one? Don't you think you might eventually mate with someone you having desirable characteristics thus insuring your future children will possess those traits? Aren't you in fact, designing your own baby?" I've yet to pose this "Mind Game" (MacKenzie, School Science and Mathematics, March 2001) when it didn't create a "buzz" in the room and generate questions, wonder, possibilities, and overall curiosity (isn't this what science teaching is about????)

2. For a possible Elaboration in a learning cycle, you can show the flickclip and have students form cooperative teams to conduct Internet research on various genetic engineering topics. The teams can create an I-movie, a magazine, a website, a mock talk show, a simulation or some other innovative product that showcases what they know and are able to do.

3. This flickclip can serve as a springboard to so many debates/court cases/discussions about the future of this technology. Should genes be patented? What about genetic enhancement?

4. Students can research the various current uses of genetic engineering and their impact on our society. They can learn how bio-engineering of plants works as well as cloning of animals and how this technology can be adapted to humans.

5. Have students discuss how this could be a form of discrimination. (It is shown later in the movie that you had to have good genes to get a job.)