Instructional Model

Teacher Guide

Teacher Background

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Aging is an inevitable process. We all know that, if we are lucky, we will grow to some older age someday. When we are teenagers, the age of 25 looks old to us. When we are 25, 40 seems old. People in their 60s think that 80 is old. Many senior citizens are "young at heart." And some young people are "old beyond their years." Obviously, some parts of the aging process are simply a frame of mind. Other parts are purely biological. But one thing we do know is that aging is a fact in all of our lives.

People over 65, who were 4% of the U.S. population in 1900 and 13% in 2000, will constitute 20% by the year 2025. This profound increase will have an enormous impact on our nation's healthcare, social, and economic institutions. Therefore, it is very important to recognize the importance of our aging populations in society. Perhaps increasing our knowledge about the aging process can change our attitudes about what it means to age. It is clear that as we increase our understanding of the biology of aging, we can no longer equate aging with inevitable decline and disease.

But what causes aging? What do we know about the aging process? Is the process genetic, or environmental? What factors influence how we age? Can the knowledge gained from the Human Genome Project and aging research lengthen human life span significantly?

The Biology of Aging is a high school level mini-unit appropriate as an enrichment activity following the study of mitosis, human genetics, DNA, and protein synthesis. A basic understanding of the immune and endocrine systems is also recommended.

The Biology of Aging unit will use The 5 E's Instructional Model: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. The program provides lesson plans and printable classroom materials for teacher use. The program encourages teachers to involve their students in community activities that unite teens and seniors.

In The Biology of Aging, students will:

Be introduced to the science behind the aging process.

Use problem solving and inquiry to study the biological aspects of aging.

Move beyond the classroom into the community and interact with people outside of their immediate age group.

Gain an appreciation for the aging process and value the integrity of other age groups.

Image in The Biology of Aging title bar from Frontiers in Bioscience.