Compare the genetic
traits of Vincent and Anton.
What does the
character “German” do for a living?
What is an
List 3 ways that the
society portrayed in the movie routinely “reads” a person’s genetic
What two major
surgeries did Vincent have to enhance his genetic “imperfections?”
List three things
Vincent did on a daily basis to maintain his “Jerome” identity.
Who is murdered in
this film? Why?
What evidence pointed
towards an “in-valid” as the murderer?
different attitudes Vincent and Irene have toward their imperfections.
happened to Anton? Why?
If Anton was
genetically superior to Vincent, why was their ultimate fate so different?
What is the
relationship between Vincent and his brother?
How is it ultimately resolved?
What is the
significance of the word “Gattaca”?
could also be asked to read the article “Gene Readers” from the Nov. 1998 Popular
Science Magazine and discuss the following: Describe the gene reading chips
and how they work. There are a
multitude of current periodical resources that could be used for enrichment by
the students. Rather than list too
many examples here, I encourage teachers to utilize the most relevant and
will then be taken to the computer lab to interact with the GATTACA
website to do the “Design a Baby” simulation described below.
order to complete this activity, you will have to work with a partner to
simulate a couple interested in having a child. Your partner does not necessarily have to be of the opposite
sex, but you must keep in mind that all decisions made in this activity must be
agreed upon by both individuals in the “couple.” As you work, keep a log of the places where you had
differences of opinion and how you were able to resolve them. Some of the issues faced in this activity ask for some very
personal information and opinions about potentially sensitive information.
If students feel uncomfortable with any of the questions, they may choose
to omit them.
by logging on to the GATTACA website:
on “Design a Child,” where you are faced with the “Big Question”…
“Do you wish to tamper with nature in anyway, or would you rather leave your
offspring to chance?” Choose from either “YES, I want to design my own
child” or “NO, I want to role the genetic dice.”
Follow the instructions given. Remember
all decisions must be made mutually by both members of the “couple.”
Keep a log of all your choices along the way and note any interesting
will be asked for a genetic history of each parent, including questions about
their physical makeup, IQ, athletic ability and sexual orientation.
They will then be given a long checklist of inheritable diseases and
asked if they are present in their family history.
Students should be encouraged to answer honestly and to the best of their
ability. Students are then asked about the presence of other inherited
traits that occur in their family history including things like obesity,
baldness, learning disorders, addictive susceptibilities, personality traits,
intelligence and longevity.
the way students are asked if they would like to clone a child from one of the
parents. This should also be a
point of discussion for the members of the “couple.”
Students should delve into the ethical issues and dilemmas associated
with cloning. Also, along the way,
students are asked if they want to reconsider their choices, which should also
spearhead discussion between the members of the “couple.”
the students elect to genetically engineer their child, they will eventually be
given three genetic engineering options: 1) clone, 2) disease free child (which
allows them to eradicate all inheritable diseases but not other undesirable
traits, or 3) health and enhancement (which allows them to eliminate inheritable
diseases and select desired traits including gender, physical characteristics,
intelligence, physical prowess, musical/math/artistic ability and sexual
the “couples” become more daring with their options, they are told along the
way that undesirable traits can be eliminated for a “modest investment.”
This also brings up another important ethical issue: how much are you
willing to pay for these services. Should
they be available to everyone? How
much would students be willing to pay? Encourage
them to address these issues in their log. Again, students should be reminded
that all decisions must be a consensus between both “parents.”
students that choose not to roll the genetic dice, they will also fill out
genetic profiles and are given a list of traits (good and bad) that the child
could potentially inherit.
activity associated with the GATTACA
website is the Gen-ethics Discussion page. Students are asked to vote their opinions on three separate
genetics issues and then able to see how they fare compared to others on each of
these issues. They are then linked
to a discussion site for each question. The
1: Your two-month-old baby is about to be taken off of life support. You and
your partner can no longer bear children. Would
you clone the child if it were an option?
2: Do you consider rejecting an 8-cell embryo to be an abortion?
3: You are an employer and know from genetic testing that the most qualified
applicant for the job has a 70% chance of developing multiple sclerosis in one
years time. Would you hire this
can log their votes and compare their perspectives with others.
Students should be given time to research their particular stance for
each of these questions and come prepared to participate in classroom debate.
Tackling these ethical questions is an excellent opportunity to give
students the details of a decision making model to approach these difficult
issues. Students are encouraged to
use a four step approach to making decisions: 1) Gather information – collect
resources on both sides of the issue; 2) Consider Values – students should try
to factor in as many values that could be potentially impacted in each issue,
including economic and moral values; 3) Explore Consequences – students should
develop a chart that defines the short term positive and negative consequences
as well as the long term positive and negative consequences; 4) Make a Decision
– this decision making model is one that they can use to tackle a variety of