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Type 2 Diabetes: An Issue for My Community

Students will be introduced to and explore the issue of Type 2 Diabetes as it impacts New Zealand communities. They will examine research evidence that is contributing to our understanding of Diabetes risk and prevention. This programme is supported by the LENScience Diabetes learning module, linking to objectives at Level 6 of the New Zealand Curriculum.

Target Group

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Year 11 - Science and/or Biology Classes

Class size: Up to 32 students 

The programme links to the LENScience Healthy Start to Life Learning Module -  Type 2 Diabetes: An Issue for My Community


Programme Aims

Develop an understanding of:
  • what type 2 diabetes is and how it impacts on New Zealand and international communities
  • factors that influence risk of type 2 diabetes during our life span, including our early life environment
  • the social and biological concepts underpinning the type 2 diabetes epidemic 
  • tools used in the diagnosis of diabetes
  • how and why scientific models are used in medical research
  • how scientists communicate their work, and collaborate within the scientific community.

Gain hands-on experience of tools that are used in the diagnosis of diabetes

Explore perceptions of the role of science in society and the work that is carried out by scientists via small group interactions with scientists during the programme.


Type 2 Diabetes: A socio-scientific issue of relevance to young people

Socio-scientific issues are complex, socially relevant issues that have conceptual or procedural links to science (Sadler 2004). The Type 2 diabetes epidemic is a socio-scientific issue. Exploring the cause, effect and social impact of the disease requires students to engage in a complex matrix of biological, social and economic factors. Typically of socio-scientific issues, addressing the issue of the impact of the Type 2 diabetes epidemic on individuals, communities and societies is complex and requires interaction between biological, social and economic ideas and strategies. Learning experiences that are situated in exploration of complex, socially relevant issues for which there is no direct solution, such as this, support students to develop scientific and health literacies that will enable them to negotiate socio-scientific issues as citizens.

Sadler, T. (2004) Informal Reasoning Regarding Socioscientific Issues: A Critical Review of Research. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 41, 513–536.

NCD risk increases throughout the lifecourse as a result of declining plasticity and the resultant cumulative effect of inadequate response to challenges. (Figure courtesy of Professor Mark Hanson, modified from Godfrey, K.M, Gluckman P.D, Hanson M.A. Developmental origins of metabolic disease: life course and intergenerational perspectives. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism 21, 4: 199 – 205, 2010, with permission)


A lifecourse approach to reduction in risk factors for non-communicable disease 

A large body of epidemiological and experimental evidence shows that early life influences play a major role in determining risks of childhood obesity and cognitive or emotional disorders, and of the later onset of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other conditions. Students will be introduced to and explore work, to which New Zealand scientists are contributing, that addresses the key question of how and why early life events affect developmental outcomes. A key concept underpinning this research is that environmental cues during early life may act through the processes of developmental plasticity to modify the life-course in ways that have the potential to be adaptive. The mechanisms of developmental plasticity have evolved to tune the developing organism to its later environment; however, in the mammal there are particular risks of faulty transduction of environmental cues in early development, leading to an increased risk of poor health in later life.



Curriculum Links

The New Zealand Curriculum 2007 | Level 6 Science.

Nature of Science:

Understanding About Science

  • Understand that scientists’ investigations are informed by current scientific theories and aim to collect evidence that will be interpreted through processes of logical argument.

Investigating in science

  • Develop and carry out more complex investigations, including using models.
  • Show an increasing awareness of the complexity of working scientifically, including recognition of multiple variables.
  • Begin to evaluate the suitability of the investigative methods chosen.

Communicating in science

  • Use a wider range of science vocabulary, symbols, and conventions.
  • Apply their understandings of science to evaluate both popular and scientific texts (including visual and numerical literacy).

Participating and contributing

  • Develop an understanding of socio-scientific issues by gathering relevant scientific information in order to draw evidence-based conclusions and to take action where appropriate.Understand that scientists have an obligation to connect their new ideas to current and historical scientific knowledge and to present their findings for peer review and debate.


Living World: 

Level 6 | Life Processes    

  • Relate key structural features and functions to the life processes of plants, animals, and micro-organisms and investigate environmental factors that affect these processes.