Mon, 01/04/2010 – Sat, 06/08/2013

eSIM @ Montgomery Middle School in Linda Vista

Beginning in January of this year, representatives of the Ethics Center took advantage of the opportunity to work with the students and faculty at Montgomery Middle School. We formed an after-school club, “Ethics and Science in Montgomery,” (eSIM). Our first and lofty goal was to use the next eight weeks to collaboratively design, implement and present an ethics and science experiment to be displayed at this year’s San Diego County Science Festival at Petco Park.
The students chose two controversial topics in science and technology – Robots in War and Designer Babies – and after learning some of the basic science, they began to consider their own views and the larger social implications of these sciences.

Next, we all worked to create a five-question survey for each topic, designed to investigate Montgomery students’ feelings about some of the ethical questions surrounding these topics. Should robots be designed to think for themselves? Is it OK for a parent to choose genetic traits to avoid illnesses? These were questions that the group decided to put their classmates.

After administering the surveys in the seventh and eighth grade science classes, eSIMers learned how to use computer software to enter and tabulate the data received from hundreds of their classmates. We designed a poster and presented the survey results at a well attended Festival event.

In addition, surveys were handed out to festival attendees on the day of the event, and Montgomery students input this data on site, so viewers could see side-by-side comparisons of the results from Montgomery and from the Festival.
The semester long experience was a resounding success! Students, faculty, and ethics center representatives have all signed on to continue the eSIM club this fall. Our first order of business will be to work with some of the survey’s qualitative data not included in the Festival presentation. After that – the students will lead the way!