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Spiderman and Genetic Manipulation
By Cynthia Kirkeby
Aug 23, 2006, 14:42 PST

The Science of Spiderman -Genetic Manipulation

Grade Level  - 7-12, college

Subject  - Science

Keywords  - Genetics, genetic manipulation, Spiderman, Peter Parker, Spidergoat, Spider-goat, Lucy, ANDi the GM monkey, genetically modified, ANDi, Spider silk,, genetics, the genetic material, transcription and translation, gene expression, biotechnology, ethics

Author - Cynthia F. Kirkeby       

Affiliation - ClassBrain, Inc.

Date – 16 November, 2002

Duration - 2-3 class periods


In Spiderman, Peter Parker is bit by a genetically altered spider. He subsequently has the spider’s genetic material fuse with his own to make him a genetically enhanced human. Do you think this sounds too far from our actual scientific capabilities at present? Think again.


Project One

Visit some of the sites listed under resources and write a paper explaining your views on genetically modified animals. Answer the following questions in your paper:

1. What do you think of the creation of Dolly, ANDi, and Spider-goat?
2. Do you think that the experiments that are being done with these animals is ethical?
3. Is it reasonable to clone animals?
4. What would you think if they cloned humans?
5. What do you think about the creation of genetically modified creatures like Spider-goat and ANDi?
6. What do you think it would be like if we started to genetically modify humans?

Project Two

Explore Genetics through the incredible BioCourse from

Work through the basics in the Genetics resources, including a ‘quiz on genetics, chromosomes, sex-linked trait, genotype, genetic disorders’ and a ‘quiz on genetics, classical genetics, gametes, alleles, testcross, epistasis, dominate, recessive.’

Shockwave, Flash, and PowerPoint are required to view and participate in all of the project files. Working through this entire section could take two weeks or more depending on the age of the student.

Additional sections on genetics are available for students looking for advanced work: The Genetic Material, Transcription and Translation, Control of Gene Expression, Changes in Genetic Expression, Biotechnology, and more.

Film 1: Spiderman

* Synopsis:   When bitten by a genetically modified spider, a nerdy high school student gains spider-like abilities which he must eventually use to fight evil as a super hero. (IMDB)

* Genre(s) - Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
* Rating - PG-13 for stylized violence and action
* Family Rating – Family Style Film Guide
* Running Time - 2hr 3 min

* Primary Actors -  Toby Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Roberson, Rosemary Harris
* Director – Sam Raimi
* Music - Danny Elfman, Corey Taylor (I), Jerry Cantrell
* Writing Credit - Stan Lee, Steve Ditko 
Producers - Avi Arad, Ian Bryce, Grant Curtis, Heidi Fugeman, Stan Lee, Steven P. Saeta, Laura Ziskin
* Studio  - Sony Pictures               


The Official Spiderman Website
Visit the official web site and learn about the Making of the Movie or read the Daily Bugle. There are quizzes, interviews, fan art, e-cards and more on this fun movie site.


A genetically enhanced goat that gives milk with spider silk in it.

Spidergoat, Lucy, and ANDi
Watch these three videos, which discuss the experiments that lead to these three unusual creatures.
Source: EXN Canada

Spider Silk
Although this article is a brief paragraph, it has a well-done graphic showing the process involved with making spidersilk from genetically enhanced goat milk.
Source: Popular Science

Nexia and US Army spin the world's first man-made spider silk performance fibers
Read about the first uses of the silk make from Spider-goat’s milk.
Source: Nexia Biotechnologies

The Spider-Goat Clones of Montreal
Read more about this fascinating genetic experiment and the three goats that have made it famous.
Source: Edward Willet

ANDi and the Glowing Green Jellyfish

This genetically crossed monkey doesn’t glow in the dark, but he does carry the trait. Will his children glow? We won’t know for a few more years.

Modified Monkey Poses Questions
What are some of the ethical questions that arise from the successful birth of the first GM (Genetically modified) monkey?
Source: BBCi

Could this monkey be the first steps towards a cure for such diseases as aids? If the research continues he could be the key.
Source: Spiked Science

Dolly - The First Cloned Sheep

This little lamb started a new era of experiments.

From DNA to Dolly - Genetics in three easy lessons
Find out what a gene is and how Dolly was created.
Source: UNESCO

A Clone in Sheep’s Clothing
What are the ethical dilemmas involved with the creation of Dolly?
Source: Scientific America
Mutton Dressed Up As Lamb
Read about the effects Dolly has had on modern-day genetics in these articles from Time spanning the last 5 years.
Source: Time Magazine

The Science of Superheroes

The Science of Superheroes
This great section of the BBCi explores comic book heroes and the science related to their superheroes. A great site! Be sure to try the Trainee Superhero Game.

© Copyright 2006 by

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