science education resource

Are Redheads Different Than Other People?

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Two studies show that red-headed people are different from other people.

One way they are different is in how easily they get skin cancer. Skin cancer can result when too much sunlight -- ultraviolet light -- starts changes in the DNA of the pigment melanin. Melanin is the pigment that darkens our skin when we tan. Chemistry Professors at Duke University discovered that melanin in redheads is much more easily damaged by sunlight than the melanin in dark-haired people. That damage causes a chemical reaction in the pigment that releases free radicals that can damage the DNA and cause cancer.

The other difference, discovered by a geneticist at McGill University, is that redheads can stand more pain than other people. (Don't test this theory at home!)

(Mansell Williams, Megan. "Secrets of Redheads" Discover November 2005: P. 13)

Off site resource from Discover:

Are Redheads Different Than Other People?

How to Intergrate this Lesson with NGSS:


Essential Questions

1. How does melanin in the skin protect us from skin cancer?


Disciplinary Core Ideas

LS1.A: Structure and Function: LINK
• All living things are made up of cells, which is the smallest unit that can be said to be alive. An organism may consist of one single cell (unicellular) or many different numbers and types of cells (multicellular). (MS-LS1-1)
• Within cells, special structures are responsible for particular functions, and the cell membrane forms the boundary that controls what enters and leaves the cell. (MS-LS1-2)
• In multicellular organisms, the body is a system of multiple interacting subsystems. These subsystems are groups of cells that work together to form tissues and organs that are specialized for particular body functions. (MS-LS1-3)


Science and Engineering Practices

Developing and Using Models: Develop and use a model based on evidence to illustrate the relationships between systems or between components of a system. (HS-LS1-2)
• Use a model based on evidence to illustrate the relationships between systems or between components of a system. (HS-LS1-4),(HS-LS1-5),(HS-LS1-7)

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations: Plan and conduct an investigation individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, and in the design: decide on types, how much, and accuracy of data needed to produce reliable measurements and consider limitations on the precision of the data (e.g., number of trials, cost, risk, time), and refine the design accordingly. (HS-LS1-3)

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions: Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for real-world phenomena, examples, or events.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence
• Use an oral and written argument supported by evidence to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon. (MS-LS1-3)
• Use an oral and written argument supported by empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon or a solution to a problem. (MS-LS1-4)

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information: Gather, read, and synthesize information from multiple appropriate sources and assess the credibility, accuracy, and possible bias of each publication and methods used, and describe how they are supported or not supported by evidence.


Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and Effect: Phenomena may have more than one cause, and some cause and effect relationships in systems can only be described using probability.

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
• Phenomena that can be observed at one scale may not be observable at another scale. (MS-LS1-1)

Systems and System Models
• Systems may interact with other systems; they may have sub-systems and be a part of larger complex systems. (MS-LS1-3)

Energy and Matter
• Matter is conserved because atoms are conserved in physical and chemical processes. (MS-LS1-7)
• Within a natural system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter. (MS-LS1-6)

Structure and Function
• Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the relationships among its parts, therefore complex natural structures/systems can be analyzed to determine how they function. (MS-LS1-2)
• Phenomena that can be observed at one scale may not be observable at another scale. (MS-LS1-1)


Connections to Nature of Science
Science is a Human Endeavor
• Scientists and engineers are guided by habits of mind such as intellectual honesty, tolerance of ambiguity, skepticism, and openness to new ideas. (MS-LS1-3)

Other questions that were generated in researching this Scientific Phenomena?



Using Discoveries and Inventions as Scientific Phenomena to Integrate with NGSS:

Scientific Phenomena can be used as a tool to anchor a science unit involving a series of lessons to engage in deeper science learning – or what is being called “Three Dimensional Learning”.

1) Describe the phenomena in a way that your students can understand and which sparks their imagination.

2) Create Essential Questions for them to answer to explain the phenomena.

3) Identify the NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas which you are targeting.

4) Provide clear directions for a process they should use to try to answer the questions using the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices to frame as your guideline.

5) Name the Crosscutting Concepts that students should be aware of throughout the lesson.

6) Discuss the Connections to Nature of Science.

7) Make note of other questions generated in the process of exploring this Scientific Phenomena.


Citing Research References

When you research information you must cite the reference. Citing for websites is different from citing from books, magazines and periodicals. The style of citing shown here is from the MLA Style Citations (Modern Language Association).

When citing a WEBSITE the general format is as follows.
Author Last Name, First Name(s). "Title: Subtitle of Part of Web Page, if appropriate." Title: Subtitle: Section of Page if appropriate. Sponsoring/Publishing Agency, If Given. Additional significant descriptive information. Date of Electronic Publication or other Date, such as Last Updated. Day Month Year of access < URL >.

Here is an example of citing this page:

Amsel, Sheri. "Are Redheads Different Than Other People?" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2024. March 25, 2024
< > has more than 2,000 illustrated animals. Read about them, color them, label them, learn to draw them.