Stem Cells

by frances 26. June 2009 15:52

Another fabulous ABC Catalyst last night on Stem Cells.

Source: ABC Catalyst

"Catalyst takes a look behind the headlines of the stem cell story. Stem cells have the potential to treat any diseases which need healthy new cells - from heart disease, alzheimers, parkinsons, and diabetes to spinal cord injuries. Stem cells come from embryos, but they also are hidden in the tissues of our bodies. But which cells should we use, and why?

We also examine the thorny issue of therapeutic cloning which scientists say offers great promise in delivering embryonic stem cells that are genetically identical to the patient. Just how far should we go in the search for medical cures?" (Source: ABC Catalyst) [My emphasis]

Both these questions could be regarded as the Focus, Essential or Big Question within a WebQuest about Stem Cells.

The heart of a WebQuest is the Big Question. This question is to challenge students to explore further into the subject material and to THINK!

Learning, using, practising Critical Thinking Skills is essential for students today as they face new problems that our society has never faced before.

This Science topic would make a fabulous WebQuest for Biology or Religious Education.

The Big Question

by frances 15. December 2008 17:10

One of the most important elements of a WebQuest is The Big Question. It is sometimes called the Focus Question, or Essential Question. It provides the students with their focus throughout the WebQuest - an important scaffold, something they can refer back to at all times throughout their exploring and working on the WebQuest.

When you are creating a WebQuest, after deciding on the messy problem to be solve, this is the next element that you need to research and think about. This Big Question has to be a question that allows students to think through possibilities, issues and solutions to the messy problem. It can be an open-ended question. An open-ended question is sometimes called infinite response or unsaturated type questions as they allow a full range of ideas to be developed.

A great WebQuest "Conflict Yellowstone Wolves" with a good Big Question: "Should the wolves in Yellowstone National Park be removed?" is an example of what teachers and creators of WebQuests should be aiming to achieve. This isn't an open-ended question but because this WebQuest has perspectives - Ranchers and Environmentalists - they will approach the question differently. This antagonism (a reflection of real life perspectives) allows students to use their emotional intelligence and they should be given mechanisms to help them resolve this conflict.

WebQuest Direct's Review:

Conflict Yellowstone Wolves  Gold award


Rating:  (Based on Higher Order Thinking and following the WebQuest Concept)
Key Learning Areas: HSIE / SOSE / Social Studies; Religious Education & Values; Science
Key Competencies: Collecting, analysing and organising information; Communicating Ideas and information; Solving problems; Working in a team
Tasks: Analytical; Compilation; Judgement; Persuasion; Research
Grade Levels: Middle; Secondary / High School
Country: U.S.A. U.S.A.
Language: English

Author: Keith Nuthall

Created: 1997. Last updated 2006
Description: Suitable for students in Years 5 - 8 studying Ecology, or, Animal Behaviour, or Environment Studies. Older students studying Geography or Ecology or conflict or social conflict would find this an interesting and challenging problem. Conflict Yellowstone Wolves is a real-life inquiry-oriented activity that challenges students to solve a current complex problem. The big question is: "Should the wolves in Yellowstone National Park be removed?" Students are to interact with experts, study past history, and develop a solution to the heated debate on reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone National Park USA. The project consists of investigating wolf behaviour; researching the Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction Program; defining and analysing the current problem from different perspectives; developing a solution as a group; and, concludes with the students writing and sending a letter to the editor or government official as a report on their solution - numerous real world feedback contacts are given.

Resources: adequate.

Evaluation rubric is provided.

Conclusion: just a wrap up with no further challenge to students.

Teacher's Guide is provided and includes Duration: 7 days; and, lesson plans.

Design and layout: clean design with images that enhance the activity.

This WebQuest could be improved with more defined roles and a few more quirky resources.

Also at: Images are not linked in this version.
Was at:


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Other WebQuest & Educational Blogs

As I come across other WebQuest Blogs (& Educational ones), I will list them here.

Jane Hart's Blog (Jane is a Social Technologies Guru in UK)

Scot Aldred's Blog (Colleague at Central Queensland University and guru on Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

The Innovative Educator

Digital Education Blog

Blogging Corner Carnival

eLearn Magazine Blog

Dr. Lisa Neal Gualtieri, Editor-in-Chief, eLearn Magazine

Primary Blog

Charlie Sullivan - Charlie does a fantastic job collating websites for Primary schools.

De Tools Blog

This blog by and for online educators and features free web based tools applications and resources. Author: John Goldsmith.

Bright Ideas: a blog by the School Library Association of Victoria

The Book Whisperer

This blog is written by Donalyn Miller, a 6th Grade teacher in Texas, who is reknown for encouraging students to read!


Clustr Map

Created WebQuests

Champions of Justice
Gold Force
Community Shopping Centre Planner
Can you get the party started?
Reminders of our moral conscience
The Petrov Affair
My Business Rules
Pluto's planetary status