Jack’s story

Curiosity lead 15 year old Jack Andraka to find out more about pancreatic cancer after losing his uncle to the disease. Jack’s research leads him to identify the protein that is present in the blood of patients with pancreatic cancer. He then developed a simple test to detect the protein.

Jack’s story provides the perfect context for raising awareness of the nature of science (NOS).

In class I used Jack’s story and a connect-extend-challenge routine to help students uncover the pathway to scientific discovery.


  1. Give students time to reflect on the pathways to scientific discovery flow chart.



  2. Students viewed the video and identified an aspect from the flowchart that struck them as being significant. “How does Jack’s story connect to the pathways to scientific discovery flow chart?”
  3. Prompt the students to identify how their ideas about the pathway of scientific discovery have broadened, deepened or expanded in some way as a result of hearing Jack’s story. “How has your thinking been extended in some way, taken in a further or deeper direction?”. Have the students individually record their responses.
  4. Finally, ask the students to consider what aspects of the discovery process seemed particularly challenging for Jack. “What challenges did Jack experience?” These might be questions or issues that emerge. Have the students individually record their responses.

To make the thinking visible have the students share their thoughts either with the whole class, a partner or in small groups. When sharing it is important that students give the reasons or thoughts behind their thinking.

Connections to IB Chemistry Syllabus

Group 4 Aims
Chemistry syllabus & cross curricular links  B.2, D.5
Understandings, applications & skills
Learner Profile Inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers,  reflective.
IB Approaches to Teaching Inquiry based, conceptually focused,  differentiated, contextualized
IB Approaches to Learning Thinking skills
Nature of Science (NOS) What is science and what it the scientific endeavor? (NOS 1)The understanding of science (NOS 2)

The objectivity of science (NOS 3)

The human face of science (NOS 4)

Scientific literacy and the public understanding of science (NOS 5)

Assessment Formative
TOK Transferring the critical thinking process developed in TOK. How knowledge is constructed. The methods of inquiry used in science and other academic disciplines.Knowledge questions / claims / assertions. Responsibility, commitment and action. Ways of knowing
Extended Essay Exploring a topic or issue of interest through an academic lens. Research and writing skills. Intellectual initiative and insight.Structuring a reasoned argumentFormal presentation of an academic science paper.
International mindedness
Academic Honesty
Links to other IB Subjects


Ritchhart, R., Church, M., & Morrison. (2011). Making Thinking Visible. San Francisco: Josseyboss.

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