For National History Day, we chose our topic of Stem Cell Research for many reasons; it is a highly controversial topic, a very close to heart topic, a very interesting topic and it has lots of conflicts, each with a compromise. Our topic is highly controversial because of all the different aspects of the research itself and all the ways they are being viewed. For example, the moral battle over stem cell research is the most common debate. Many people believe that because a human embryo, a living, unborn child, is being destroyed in the process of isolating stem cells, the research is wrong. However, many others believe that because the research could save lives and help devastated families, it would be unethical to merely dispose of them.
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Conducting our research was a fairly simple undertaking; five resources were used: Internet, interviews, classroom texts, newspaper articles and books. For the internet, we were able to find websites pertaining to stem cell research history and we used fertility clinic web pages to look at what current research was being conducted with private funding. We were also lucky enough to contact Richard Galli, author of Rescuing Jeffrey, a memoir about his son’s dive into paraplegia, and acquire a chance to interview them both. Additionally, we interviewed a biology teacher at our school to learn more about what stem cells are. Also attained from a biology class were texts explaining what stem cells are and where they were first isolated. Newspaper articles also gave us information as far as history because articles from many years ago about, then, current breakthroughs, could be read, giving us a firsthand look at what America saw at those times.
Our presentation type is a documentary and we chose this for many reasons; firstly, resources to make a documentary (film equipment, editing software) are easy to access and work with- even digital cameras are able to record videos as well as take useful pictures. Secondly, we both have prior knowledge on how to use these resources- computers come with programs that give users the opportunity to create and edit their own videos. Thirdly, a documentary is the best fitting way to display our information; a documentary shows many pictures which is a good milieu for substantial dialogue.
Lastly, a documentary gave us the ability to show a maximum amount of information- stem cell research has a short history and it is essential to show as much as we can.
Our topic relates easily to the theme of conflict and compromise because the subject is based on a conflict found and a compromise reached. President Bush believes the use of embryonic stem cells is unethical in research; however, he was met with the challenge of The US believing something otherwise. Forced to choose, President Bush gave a compromise; a set of guidelines to be met in order to obtain federal funding. If not met, federal funding wouldn’t be provided and private funds would have to be used.
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