Coronado Middle School eighth-graders Collin Nork, Chloe Van den Akker, Carlos Goya Minvill, and Addison Bayless in the Innovation Lab with the Modern Monster they created: “GMO Pumpkin.” Photo courtesy of CUSD.

Two hundred years after the story of “Frankenstein” was written, Coronado Middle School eighth-grade students in Ramona Loiselle’s English class showcased their scientific technological creations based on themes of the novel at the CMS Innovation Lab (iLab) on Nov. 3.

“When we approach a novel like this (Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus) we approach it for a reason. Why are we reading a book that was written 200 years ago, what’s the reason? What is the big idea? We’re looking for Shelley’s (author Mary Shelley) purpose in this novel and we see that it is in part to warn us about the dangers of science,” explained Loiselle.

Grappling with ethics

In the centuries since the classic horror story was published, scientists and society continue to grapple with the ethics and responsibility of scientific creations.

During the weeks they read the novel, students also researched modern scientific advancements such as artificial intelligence, cloning, and location tracking.

Then they worked in groups to discuss how creations could grow beyond human control and what that would look like.

From those group discussions they created their own Modern Monsters.

GMO pumpkin monster

“Our monster is a GMO pumpkin. We talked about how the novel warned about tampering with nature. We made our GMO pumpkin a monster with all of the genetic modifications, and then it wages war against the human race,” said Carlos Goya Minvill, of his team’s monster.

Minville worked with Chloe Van den Akker, Addison Bayless, and Collin Nork.

Coronado Middle School eighth graders Adam Trent, Sadie Watwood, Gabby Fichter and Carter Mondzelewski in the Innovation Lab with their Modern Monster “Info Stealer.” Photo courtesy of CUSD.

Another monster (created by Carter Mondzelewski, Gabby Fichter, Adam Trent and Sadie
Watwood) was an ‘Information Stealer’ who gets bigger as it consumes people’s private
information from social media.

“The social media companies that grow their platforms with better algorithms built this monster,” explained Mondzelewski.

Fichter added: “It steals private information and exposes people.”

‘Great insight and ideas’

“I really enjoyed working with the students on this project,” said iLab teacher Laurie Fountain, who facilitated the creation of the monsters. “They had such great insight and ideas. It’s also great to see them using their presentation skills while explaining their creations to our iLab guests,” she added.

A common theme among all the student projects was that the novel warns future generations against recklessness and to be cautious of their technology because things can quickly get out of hand.

Loiselle explained: “We discussed that when the novel was written the Romantics were
questioning science and industry versus nature. The students brought up great ideas about
what our society is questioning today. These discussions went on for four to five weeks as we read the book…We talked about how human struggles actually produce empathy and whether or not a perfect human would have empathy. We talked about social media bullying and platforms, overpopulation, and genetic modification of food and people. They were great discussions and all related back to the novel.”

iLab used to create projects

Each class at CMS has the opportunity to go to the iLab to work on curriculum related projects.

As the iLab teacher, Fountain works in collaboration with classroom teachers to provide the iLab materials and tools to create projects and experiments.

She shared that currently each English class is utilizing the iLab for a different purpose related to the “Frankenstein” novel project, including 2D visual scenes that incorporate light, movement, and sound.

Story courtesy of Coronado Unified School District Public Information Officer Maria Simon.

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