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For Grades 9-12 , week of Aug. 07, 2023


The family of a Black woman whose cells helped advance decades of scientific advances have reached a settlement with the research company that a lawsuit alleges have profited from the cells. Henrietta Lacks went to Johns Hopkins Hospital for treatment of cervical cancer in the 1950s, when she was 31 years old. Cells were taken for a biopsy were kept for research purposes without Lacks’ consent and continued to divide outside her body in test tubes. Known as HeLa cells, they were shared widely for medical research and were used in vaccine development, cancer and AIDS research, and more. The family of Lacks, who died the same year her cells were taken, sued research company Thermo Fisher for profiting off of HeLa cells without her or the family’s permission. The family and company have now reached an undisclosed settlement. Read more about Lacks and how her cells were used online. Then, write a brief summary of your opinion on the ethical issues, if any, that you see with her cells being used for research when they were collected without consent. Share your thoughts with your classmates and discuss any differences of opinion.


In one of the latest applications of artificial intelligence technology, a study compared AI and radiologists interpreting scans to look for breast cancer. The study compared scans from 80,000 women in Sweden; half of them were analyzed by two radiologists, the other an AI system followed by one or two radiologists. The AI-doctor group found 41 more cases of breast cancer than the doctor-only group without increasing the rate of false positives. Additionally, the radiologists in the AI group read almost 37,000 fewer scans, or a 44 percent reduction in their workload. Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the world, with more than 2.3 million women diagnosed each year. Write a short summary article explaining how advances in AI technology could be helpful for radiologists, in this case, and the broader implications this could have for patients and employees in the healthcare system.


Singer-rapper Lizzo is under fire for allegations of a hostile work environment and religious, disability, and sexual harassment by three former back-up dancers. They filed a lawsuit against Lizzo and her dance captain, describing the singer as “very intense and very unforgiving” and accusing her of weight-shaming, despite her public championing of body positivity. In response, Lizzo called the allegations outrageous and “as unbelievable as they sound.” Read more about the dancers’ allegations against Lizzo and her response to them online. Then, write an article that compares what the two sides are saying about each other.


Two US Navy sailors in Southern California have been charged for allegedly providing military secrets and sensitive information to China. One of the men had access to national security information as part of his work on a ship at Naval Base San Diego, home of the Pacific Fleet, which has long interested the Chinese government. The information given to a Chinese intelligence officer included details about US warships and their defenses, vulnerabilities, and weapons, technical and mechanical ship manuals, electrical diagrams and blueprints for a radar system on a US military base in Japan, and information about upcoming US military exercises. Write a paragraph about the challenges a journalist could face in reporting on this story and the importance of doing so, from interviewing sources to the implications—both positive and negative—of sharing this kind of information with the public.


The College Board, which oversees advanced placement courses and exams and the SAT nationwide, has said that Florida school districts should no longer offer AP Psychology. The course has been around for thirty years and has always included a unit on developmental psychology that covers gender and sexual orientation. The American Psychology Association supports the inclusion of those topics as a necessary element of human development. However, under the expansion of Florida’s new restrictions in education, instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation is not allowed through 12th grade in most cases. The College Board declined to modify its content for the state and said it would not support the course being taught without gender and sexuality as a part of it. Write an opinion article detailing how students could be affected by the tension between the College Board and Florida’s Department of Education, including the AP Psychology course and the recent AP African American Studies course that was trialed in the state..