Baby scientists

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Baby scientists

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The story

I received an interesting letter in the post last week inviting my two year old daughter to take part in an international research study.

Feeling rather proud that scientists have realised her potential so early, I read on wondering what research they would exactly need her to carry out.  I realised, much to my chagrin, that they just wanted to use her in a clinical trial to test a new flu vaccine.

I will list the thoughts that passed through my mind in order:

  • There is no way I am letting anyone inject my baby daughter with a potentially harmful drug.
  • Hmm…it might be interesting to take part in a clinical trial.  It could provide online casinos some useful writing material.
  • Why would any parent say yes?
  • Come on, you’re a rational, scientifically literate person.  This vaccine might save millions of lives and it has to be tested on someone…
  • …why young children though?
  • I really should write a blog post on this…

Teaching ideas

It struck me that this emotive context could be used in a lesson about vaccination or drug trials.

Students could put themselves into the shoes of a parent who receives the letter and write down what decision they would make and why.  You could also ask students to work in pairs taking the role of parents who have differing views and watch their discussion.

In case you are wondering what my decision was.  Let me ask you this, what would you do?


The website about the trial.  From here you can download a copy of the letter sent out to parents.  It outlines what the vaccine aims to do and how the trial will be carried out.  Depending on the age/ability of your students and the aims of the lesson you can use the letter as it is or cut out the non-essential parts.

Another story about clinical trials.  This time about the possibility of an anthrax vaccine being tested on children in the US.