Socio-scientific issue


Integrate biological knowledge to develop an informed response to a socio-scientific issue


This assessment will be run as an internal assessment by your teacher and its focus is on a ‘contemporary biological issue’ which means the issue must still be one for which people currently hold different opinions or viewpoints. This is important as you need to work out what topic you are given has the biggest range of opinion and no I will not be giving you the answer here (:

Hints to follow to do well!!

You will need to present and explain a personal position (that is your own, not you friends or even teachers), developed by using relevant biological knowledge, rather than just researching biological ideas, implications and differing viewpoints.

You need to be very obvious in explaining why the action(s) at a personal and/or societal level are chosen by yourself as your topic.

This means you will need to give:

  1. a stated reasoned viewpoint that leads logically to a recommendation for action.
  2. your response needs to flow logically from the biological information provided.

You need to justify your own position and proposed action(s) by analysing and evaluating the biological knowledge related to the issue.

This involves identifying sources used that provide biological ideas relevant to the issue and checking each source for accuracy, up-to-datedness and/or bias; it can also include providing reasons why a particular source was/was not used.

You need to use material that is integrated meaning it has come from different sources (often within a paragraph), has been rewritten in your own words (copy and paste will not work here), and paragraphs flow in a logical way rather than jumping from one topic to another. Plan, Plan and Plan before you start your final write up.

Choosing your own topic

Some schools let you do this, ask your teacher if you have an idea for a good topic. either case the issue is one with direct relevance to New Zealand and/or the Pacific region i.e. the islands of the South Pacific. This would therefore exclude the rest of the world! You may have a broad issue like Whaling or Climate change but this must be made relevant to NZ.

Things you must have

· presenting a personal position, developed using relevant biological knowledge

· proposing action(s) at a personal and/or societal level.

· explaining why the position and the action(s) have been chosen.

· justifying the personal position and proposed action(s) by analysing and evaluating the biological knowledge related to the issue. This may include:

- comparing the significance of implications

- considering the likely effectiveness of the proposed action(s)

- commenting on sources and information, considering ideas such as

i validity – currency, peer review status, scientific acceptance

ii bias – attitudes, values, beliefs.

A socio-scientific issue has both biological and social implications. The issue is one for which people hold different opinions or viewpoints. Social implications may be economic, ethical, cultural, or environmental.

Biological knowledge includes:

· biological concepts and processes relating to the issue

· biological and social implications of the issue

· differing opinions or viewpoints about the issue.

Good referencing practice, using accepted protocols, is expected at this level but cannot be a reason for you to not achieve. It will limit your ability to gain M or E though!

Some possible topics. (note these may be hard to link to a New Zealand issue)

These are designed to only be a starter towards you topic, the rest is over to you. Good luck!

1080 poison use to kill introduced pests into NZ

Sodium fluoroacetate is the organofluorine chemical compound with the formula FCH2CO2Na. This colourless salt has a taste similar to that of sodium chloride and is used as a metabolic poison. It occurs naturally as an anti-herbivore metabolite in various plants but can also be produced synthetically. It is a derivative of fluoroacetic acid, a carboxylic acid. It is sold as a pesticide under the name "1080". The more common fluorinated acetic acid trifluoroacetic acid and its derivatives are far less toxic.

Killer Microbes

Vaccines have been used in NZ for decades now and have reduced or eliminated many common diseases such as small pox and polio. New vaccines are continually being discovered for other problems such as earaches, the flu, and strep throat. You will need to will learn how these vaccines work and will examine the risks associated with certain vaccines.

Stem Cells

Stem cells have become a controversial topic over the last few years. Most people have some sort of opinion on how (or if) stem cells should be used, but few could define what a stem cell really is. You will need to dispel many of the misconceptions that people have about stem cells and describe the potential application of stem cell technology on medicine. You will need to learn about the history of stem cells; how they were discovered and where they come from so they can use factual information as they develop their own opinion about this controversial topic.


Cloning technology is changing the way modern medicine is dealing with diseases that have affected humans throughout history, yet it causes concern for many due to the possible applications of this technology as well as many misconceptions of what cloning really is. You will need to describe the cloning process, what it can do for medicine, and explore controversial potential applications of cloning in the future.

Ozone Hole

There has been much debate over the veracity of the “hole” in the ozone. Many have called the theory “balderdash” or “poppycock”, but scientific research has shown that there is, indeed, a hole formed in the ozone which has been effecting human health and ecosystems. You will need to find the facts about the ozone and learn how it has been being destroyed. You will need to also learn how the government has been dealing with this issue and if the actions taken are working to restore the ozone layer.

Drug Use

New research has begun to uncover the underlying physiology of addiction and the effects on sports and society. Drug addiction once was considered simply “bad behavior” or “lack of willpower”, but now it is understood that there is chemical activity in the brain that controls this behavior. This has led to new ways to deal with drug addicts and their treatment. You will need to look into that the use of drugs can start a change in brain chemistry that is beyond the control of their own will.

Global Warming

Global warming is yet another environmental theory that has been ridiculed as “alarmist” mentality. Scientific research has shown, however, that there has been a steady increase in global temperatures since the industrial revolution. Students will learn about “greenhouse gases” Students will be exposed to the effects that the current global temperature rise has had on the environment and will learn what scientists predict will happen if the temperature continues to climb.

NZ focus Contexts

· Stem cell research occurring in New Zealand

· Xenotransplantation in New Zealand

· Compulsory DNA sampling in New Zealand

· Animal testing/ experimentation in New Zealand

· Genetic testing (by insurers/employers)

· Genetically modified organism and plants in New Zealand

· Ozone hole over New Zealand

· Acidification of oceans around New Zealand

· Water fluoridation in New Zealand

· Immunisation in New Zealand

Exclusion List. (You cannot do these due to their use in exemplars and online mark schedules)

Growth Hormones in Meat. Use of HGP’s.

1080 poison use in New Zealand

Folate/ folic acid use for pregnant mothers in New Zealand


Think of an implication as a consequence of something....for example if you have money for bus fare to get home and you spend the money at a shop the implication or consequence is that you won't be taking the bus home so you will have to find another way to get home!

So an implication of genetic discrimination could be that some people will not be able to get life insurance or not be offered a particular job.

Possible Plan


Bio concept/ What it is

Bio processes/ How it works

Why it is an issue

Bio implications

Here’s what the people who agree think here’s what the people who disagree think

Links to other arguments/ implications

Ethical implications

Social implications

Economic implications

Environmental implications

Your opinion/what do you think

Your justification why based on the evidence you have presented beforehand. Weighing up the evidence from what you have presented from the different opinions. This includes validity of the opinions. (NO NEW STUFF HERE)

Summary/ ending