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Jim Wasielewski

Location: Vacaville High School

The following lesson was designed to give students a different way of approaching the field of genetics and new advances in biotechnology. After reading the novel "Jurassic Park" by Michael Crichton, I decided to incorporate the ideas of the novel into my genetics unit. Crichton is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and does an exceptional job of blending science and suspense; a perfect blend for any high school science student.

The premise of the novel is discovering the ability to recover and clone fossilized dinosaur DNA from the abdomen of fossilized gnats and mosquitoes preserved in amber (fossilized tree sap). There is a high degree of biotechnological applications as these procedure are explained.

The novel has basically three underlying themes:
1. The latest theories on the behavior of dinosaurs and their biological relationship to modern day birds

2. The theory of chaos and the problems with man's attempt to control nature

3. The biotechnological revolution: The advantages and disadvantages with this technology

Being strapped for funds, like most high school instructors, my first main concern was the cost of the novel. In paperback form, I was able to obtain a class set of 30 books for $100.00 dollars. Students were given a total of 3
weeks to read the entire novel. Along the way, I required all students to complete comprehension study guides, discuss various aspects of the novel in small and large groups, along with thematic quizzes. At the conclusion of the novel, the students were required to write an essay responding to one of the three underlying themes.

The students thoroughly enjoyed the novel. It allowed them to view the process of science in a different manner than they are traditionally familiar with. I also found their interest and understanding of biotechnology also
increased after reading the novel.

If you have any questions about the use of the novel, please do not hesitate to Email me at BayWaz@aol.com.

For Students:


Over the next 21 days, you will be reading a novel combining both adventure and science. Although the novel is currently science-fiction, nothing about it is entirely outside the realm of possibility. Much of the novel is based on tested scientific principles, especially in the field of genetics. I feel this will be an extremely valuable and enjoyable educational experience. As you read through the novel, please keep in mind the following underlying themes:

1. The use of biotechnological advancements in science (details on the subject matter). Should there be a limit? Who shall decide what should and should not be allowed?

2. The evolution and behavior of dinosaurs. What are the latest theories on their existence?

3. The scientific theory of chaos. What does it attempt to explain? What are its implications?


You will be given a total of 21 days to read "Jurassic Park". Over that length of time, you will be given a total of 2 class days to read, no more. All other reading is expected to be done outside of class. A good schedule for reading is 25 pages a night, every night. You will be given both announced and unannounced quizzes testing your reading comprehension. These quizzes will cover the main points of the novel. If you ever come across something that does not make sense to you in the novel, read over the surrounding information, and then bring it up in class. This is the only way I will be able to assist you. The ideas in this novel are based on the fundamental foundations of science.


These books are being checked out to you with the expectation of being returned in excellent shape. I want to use them for future classes. As a result, any book which comes back damaged (writing in book, torn pages, water logged, etc.) will need to be replaced by you. The cost of each book is $6.00. Please keep track of your book at all times.


"Jurassic Park" Study Guide (Pages 1-50)

1. Explain how the biotechnological revolution is different from past scientific changes in the world-

2. What problems can be foreseen in biotechnology?

3. What type of animal did the lizard-like creature that Tina plays with resemble?

4. Describe the problem Marty Gutierrez is faced with.

5. Why is Costa Rica ecologically unique?

6. Describe what Alice Levin suspects from the lizard sample. What leads her to her hypothesis?-

7. Describe the professions of *Grant and *Ellie.

8. What is amber?

9. Describe the discovery Grant and Ellie make from the fax message-

10. Who is *Hammond and what does he want from Grant?


1. Explain *Gennaro's job.

2. Describe the CAST system and how it will revolutionize fossil hunting.

3. Describe the body plan (adaptations) of a velociraptor.

4. What do the executives of Biosyn feel InGen (Hammond's Company) is involved in?

5. How can dinosaur DNA be recovered?

6. Explain *Malcolm's profession.

7. Explain the basis behind Malcolm's prediction for Hammond's Island.

8. Explain the theory of chaos (use the weather as an example).

9. Who is *Ed Regis?

10. Describe some of the new theories which have been developed to help explain dinosaurs and their behavior-

11. Who are *Tim and *Lex?

12. Where has the dinosaur DNA been coming from? Who is *Dr. Wu?


1. Why are the scientists not concerned with analyzing the entire strand of dinosaur DNA?

2. Who is *Nedry

3. Explain phylogenic mapping using DNA sequences.

4. Describe the two ways Dr. Wu has attempted to prevent the dinosaurs from breeding.

5. Describe the basic purpose of the procompsognathids on the island.

6. How have the scientists genetically altered the DNA sequence to prevent the dinosaurs from living in the outside world? Where is the lysine found?

7. Explain Malcolm's point on dinosaur behavior on page 120

8. Who is *John Arnold?

9. Describe the problem Malcolm has with the height distribution graph of the Procompsognathids

10. Describe some of the fundamental problems Arnold has with the park as he argues with Hammond.

11. Who is *Muldoon? Explain his problems with the park.

12. Which dinosaur was responsible for the death of the construction worker early in the novel? How is this dinosaur adapted for hunting?

13. What evidence does Grant uncover pointing towards the dinosaur population breeding?

14. How does Malcolm explain the problem with the computer dinosaur tracking method? What does this data confirm?

15. Explain how the idea of fractals explained by Malcolm relates directly to chaos theory

16. What do the people in the landcruiser notice about the boat leaving to the mainland?

17. Describe what Nedry did to the computer system, adding to the chaos of events?

18. Describe Nedry's fate


1. Why did Hammond choose to develop a "amusement park" with the technology instead of a pharmaceutical company?

2. Who is *Harding?

3. Describe the Malcolm Effect and how it relates to the park

4. Describe a pterodactyl.

5. What does Grant find about the baby velociraptor on page 296. Why is this so important?


1. Describe what Arnold and Wu find out about the power on the island, apparently as a direct result of the system being started up again.

2. Describe Malcolm's view of "scientific power" and the problems associated with it-

3. How would Malcolm react to the following quote, "Science has always said that it may not know everything now but it will know, eventually."

4. Explain why it is so difficult to predict animal behavior-

5. How does Grant save himself and the children in the DNA extraction laboratory from the pack of velicoraptors?

6. Why does Malcolm feel that the planet Earth is not in any state of jeopardy? What actually is in jeopardy?

7. Describe the special quality some amphibians and other organisms have when it comes to reproduction?

8. Describe the conclusion of the novel as to the fate of the island, dinosaurs, and the surviving characters-


(A Test On Jurassic Park)

1. Throughout the entire novel, Malcolm warns of the impending doom to the Jurassic Park project. Cite three different examples which Malcolm would feel were a direct result of Chaos Theory. Give a brief description of each. (10 pts)

2. Name (spelling not important) and briefly describe the physical or social characteristics of two of the dinosaurs whose DNA was recovered and cloned. (10 pts)

3. Describe two lines of evidence found by characters in the novel that suggest the dinosaurs are actually breeding. What precautions had been taken to make sure the dinosaurs were not going to reproduce? (10 pts)

4. Explain how Malcolm would react to the following quote "Science may not know everything now, but it will know everything eventually"? (10 pts)

5. Why does Malcolm feel the earth is not in a state of jeopardy? What actually is in a state of jeopardy? (6 pts)

6. Explain, in detail, the reasoning behind supplementing the dinosaur's diet with the amino acid lysine. Include in your explanation the basic process of protein synthesis. (10 points)

7. MATCHING: Match the names of the following characters with their brief descriptions. Please write the letter of the description in the appropriate space. (2 pts each)

______ Grant A. Creator of Jurassic Park, fascinated with the economic potential

______ Malcolm B. Paleobotanist, Grant's partner

______ Harding C. Grandson of Hammond, switches main
power back on after being lost

______ Nedry D. Computer expert, biotechnological spy

______ Hammond E. Expert geneticist, spliced amphibian DNA
into Dinosaur DNA

______ Tim F. Caretaker of park's dinosaurs, former zoo

______ Gennaro G. Investment partner of park, concerned about park failing

______ Muldoon H. Park's veterinarian, doctor to Malcolm

______ Ellie I. Mathematician, proponent of chaos theory

______ Regis J. Public relations man for Jurassic Park,
tourguide for group

______ Wu K. Expert on Dinosaurs, fascinated by
witnessing actual dinosaur behavior

8. Describe the conclusion of the novel, including the fate of the island, Hammond, the dinosaurs and the surviving characters. (10 pts)

Return Of The Dinosaurs (Jurassic Park Quiz #3)

1. Since much of the dinosaur DNA recovered from the abdomens of biting insects is fragmented (missing some nucleotides), explain how the correct sequence is made? Hint: Dr. Wu is in charge of the process. (10 pts)

2. Explain how Malcolm, viewing the following Height Distribution graph (found in any normal, healthy biological population), reinforced his theory that something was going wrong with Jurassic Park. (10 pts)

3. Explain the unique characteristic of the Dilophosaurus (5 pts)

4. Explain how Malcolm proves the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park are actually reproducing (one of the many variables coming into play)
This came about by an incorrect assumption made by Hammond. (10 pts)

5. Explain the role of Dennis Nedry, including his initial work for Hammond, what he is currently involved in, and his fate (10 pts)

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