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Peer Review

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4.25 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Dec 24, 2013 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: This is an educational activity provided by a national organization and aligned to the reading of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot.
Type of Material: A variety of material is presented: links to interactive websites; worksheets for use with students; rubrics for use in assessment activities.
Recommended Uses: Either as a project in a biology class or to have students read sections (three in total) and write a synapsis on their thoughts and feelings about that section. ie their Aha moments, likes and dislikes about that section.
Technical Requirements: none
Identify Major Learning Goals: There are several goals of this project:
  • To enhance student literacy and understanding of biomedical ethics by learning about Hela cells and why they are important to science
  • how Hela cells are related to most current drugs and research
  • To discuss the ethics behind the procurement of the cells and usage/profitability from them.
Target Student Population: This project presents activities useful for high school students or those enrolled in introductory college courses.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: The student should have a basic background in biology: cell structure, cell division, basic genetics.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.25 stars
  • Excellent resources
  • Well-written, assessment-based activities (some with associated rubrics for evaluation)
  • Broken up into sections Explains the ethics and the dilemmas behind using her cells
  • None--very clear how to use and implement the activities on this website

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Very clear activities that are able to be completed in class or within an extended out of class assignment
  • These activities also promote higher Bloom's level thinking about issues in biomedical science today
  • Great for discussions and class debates
  • Can add questions pertaining to the sections on your exam
  • Can easily fit into a lecture about cells and medical rights
  • Needs to be structured in ways to lead the conversation in a productive direction

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
  • Very easy to use
  • the guidance from this site lets you organize discussions and introduce the topic easily
  • All links appear to be working and information is presented very clearly to the user
  • None

Other Issues and Comments:
  • None