Begin Before Birth is a website about how the influence of the environment begins in the womb. It is based on evidence showing what a mother feels during pregnancy can have a lasting effect on the development of her child.
It provides a clear and concise introduction to the areas of fetal programming, fetal development and epigenetics. It examines the evidence and the mechanisms for how stress in the mother’s environment can affect her foetus.
This website was put together by researchers from the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology at Imperial College London under the guidance of Professor Vivette Glover, Professor of Perinatal Psychobiology. The films were produced by Windfall Films.
Students will need access to individual PCs with Internet access and sound. Ideally, the room will be equipped with a projector to display the teacher’s PC.
- A Level Psychology courses
- AQA A – ‘Schizophrenia and Mood disorders’ and ‘Stress’
- AQA B – ‘Genetic explanation of behaviour’ ’Schizophrenia and Mood disorders’ and ‘Stress’
- Higher Tier GCSE Science and Biology courses where discussion of environmental vs inherited factors takes place – epigenetics and evolution sections are particularly relevant
- A Level Biology courses
- The website contains many links to related areas as well as links to key pieces of research. It could be used as a summary of the key ideas and a basis to start a research project.
Suggested Lesson Plan
|Further work Students could be asked to research any of the areas mentioned by clicking on the links to the research papers as starting points. A presentation could be prepared summarising their key findings and delivered to the class in a future lesson.|
An alternative idea would be to set the activities as homework and ask students to prepare responses to the discussion questions that includes references to the key pieces of research. This material could be used to debate the questions outlined in the lesson plan during the next lesson.