Perspectives on Neural Technologies

A Lesson Plan for High School Neuroscience Capstone or Advanced Biology CoursesBrain question mark

Grade Levels: 11-12
Subject(s): Neuroscience Capstone, Advanced Biology
Keywords: Neuroscience, neurotechnology, neuroethics, qualitative research
Activity Time: 8 50-minute class periods

Summary: In this 8-day lesson, students will be introduced to qualitative research methods such as semi-structured interviews in order to grapple with the ethics of neural enhancement using technologies such as brain implants and study drugs. Students will work in small groups to research one of three different technologies that can be used for either medical need or enhancement (e.g., the drug modafinil, the non-invasive device tDCS, and the Neuralink implant). They will then interview their classmates to identify prevailing attitudes about the technologies among their peer group. Students will present common themes that arise in the interviews in order to compare and contrast the three technologies and gain an understanding of diverse ethical issues that come along with advances in neuroscience.

Lesson Plan (Start here)

  • Lesson overview, learning objectives, materials, procedure, and other important information.

Activity 1: Researching Neural Technologies

Activity 2: Intro to Qualitative Research and Student Interviews

Activity 3: Coding and analyzing Student Interviews

Activity 4: Student Presentations

Equipment: Student computers are needed, as well as a free download to each device of Otter ( transcription app for doing interviews and transcribing them to text documents.

Classroom Testing: These materials were designed during the summer session of the 2021 Research Experience for Teachers program and have not yet been tested in a classroom setting with students.

Credit: This lesson was developed by Dr. Karen Allendoerfer, Subject Expert Teacher, Biology at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley (San Jose, CA) as part of the 2021 Research Experience for Teachers program at the Center for Neurotechnology.

Download the files for the lesson plan, student handouts, slide decks, and surveys/forms using the links above.