On-line homework assignments will be assigned on Tuesdays and will be due the following Tuesday.  Students will have one week to finish their homework assignments.  Homework can be accessed from any device that is connected to the Internet, i.e. cell phone, tablet, computer, etc. 

***NOTE***The reading selections can also be found on this web page if you have trouble accessing them through the Skyward page. 

Read the short play,  
"The King Stands Up"
and the article, 
"A High School Scientist’s
Breakthrough on Cancer"

BEFORE you answer the questions 
 Due TUESDAY, February 27, 2018!!

The King Stands Up

adapted from a Tibetan folktale


KING                                       BEGGAR

COURTIERS                           WOMAN

MERCHANT                          BOY


Scene 1

SETTING:  An ornate and elegant throne room.  The king, dressed in flowing robes, is pacing in front of his throne, talking to a row of courtiers. 

1        KING:  Courtiers, you know that I have been an honest and trusting king, allowing you all to do as you see fit.  (The courtiers nod eagerly, and the king continues amicably.)  But recently, I have noticed a sum of money missing from the royal treasury.  (The courtiers shift uncomfortably, but remain silent.)  As I am so trusting, I wish to avoid accusing anyone – but as you can imagine, it must not happen again, so I have decided to hire a chief adviser to watch my affairs.  You must go out and find all the clever people of the land and bring them here in a week’s time.  I will test and hire the cleverest to be my chief adviser.

COURTIERS:  Yes, of course, your majesty, we will!


Scene 2

SETTING:  The same throne room, now crowded with people.  They are a motley assortment, including a rich merchant, a bagger, an old woman, and a boy perhaps twelve years of age.  The courtiers stand in a line behind the throne to watch the proceedings.  The people are talking among themselves, but the noise dies down as the king enters and everyone bows.

KING:  (motioning for everyone to stand up again) I welcome you all to my royal palace.  I can see by looking at you that you are an intelligent bunch.  But I must choose one among you who is the cleverest of all.  And so, as you know, I have designed a challenge for you.  (The people and courtiers lean forward, listening intently.)  Really, it is very simple.  When I finish speaking, I will sit down on my throne.  My royal intention is not to stand up again while even one of you is still here.  But if any of you can persuade me to stand up, I will appoint that person the chief adviser to the king.

(The king swooshes his robes, dramatically seats himself on his throne, and wait expectantly.)

MERCHANT:  Your majesty, I saw enemy warships as I walked along the harbor this morning.  You must run out to call your guards!

5        KING: (chuckling) Clever, but not quite clever enough.  (He gestures to a courtier.)  You, there, go and ask the chief of my guards to defend the harbor.

(As the courtier exists and the merchant stalks out angrily, a beggar sneaks quietly up beside the throne.  Suddenly, he claps his hounds loudly.  The king is startled and looks around but does not stand.)

KING:  (pleased) A creative idea, indeed!  Well done – and yet, as you see, I am still seated.

(The beggar leaves in disgust.  Others begin to call out to the king as the scene ends.)


Scene 3

SETTING:  The same throne room, with the king now leaning back in his throne and the courtier sagging against the wall.  Only a few people are left in the room, including the old woman and the boy.

WOMAN:  Your majesty, how hungry you will be if you sit in this throne forever!  It has already been many long hours.  Imagine the delicious smell of roast beef, of pies in the oven!

KING:  (cheerfully) It’s tempting, but I am a patient man.

(The woman exists, disappointed.  The young boy approaches the throne.)

BOY:  Your majesty, it would be terribly easy for me to persuade you to stand up.  This is hardly a test for a clever adviser!  May I try something more difficult?

10      KING:  (surprised) If you like.

BOY:  Suppose, your majesty, I were to persuade you to walk through a door.

KING:  (with certainty) You couldn’t possibly persuade me to do that if I didn’t want to.

BOY:  I believe I could.  (pointing to the doors of the throne room)  Suppose you were standing just outside that door.  If I could make you step back inside this throne room, might I then qualify to be your chief adviser?

KING:  I would not only make you my chief adviser but also give you half my treasure!

15      BOY:  (composedly)  Then let us make an experiment of it now.  Shall we begin?

KING:  Certainly.

(The king stands up and begins to walk toward the door of the throne room.  A moment later, he realizes what he has done.  Everyone in the throne room begins to applaud, and the king, smiling, walks over to shake the boy’s hand as the curtain falls.)







A High School Scientist’s Breakthrough on Cancer


1       At first glance, Jack Andraka seems like a regular high school sophomore.  He has a goofy grin and wears a retainer.  He enjoys competing in whitewater rafting and watching TV.  Sometimes, he doesn’t pay attention in class.  And he doesn’t have a lot of time for homework.

          But that’s where the similarities end.  When he’s not paying attention in class, he’s often secretly reading top scientific journals – Nature, Science, the Journal of Clinical Neurology – under his desk.  And the reason he doesn’t have time for homework is simple;  He’s in the lab, whether in his basement at home or, more often, at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University, breaking new ground in the complex field of diagnostic tests for cancer. 

A Deadly Cancer

          Andraka studies pancreatic cancer, one of the most aggressive forms of cancer.  Fewer than 6 percent of patients live more than five years after they are diagnosed.  Because pancreatic cancer spreads so quickly, finding it early is key.  But the cancer is tricky to detect by using imaging tests, since the pancreas is located deep within the body.  And there are few typical symptoms at an early stage.

          One of the few telltale signs on pancreatic cancer is the presence of a type of protein called mesothelin.  But the tests available today can only detect mesothelin levels that are extremely high – when the cancer is already spreading throughout the body.  Physicians have long needed a test to detect lower levels of this protein.  Ideally, a simple blood test could be used to screen for this type of cancer in a routine exam.

A New Solution

5       Shortly after a friend of his family had died from pancreatic cancer, Andraka stumbled upon a solution one day in his freshman biology class.  The biology lesson that day was on antibodies, the cells of the body’s immune system.  Andraka’s teacher was explaining that antibodies fight diseases by binding, or attaching to specific proteins in the blood.

          Andraka was listening, but he also was looking at a paper in the journal Science.  The paper was about microscopic carbon structures called nanotubes.  Scientists were beginning to discover many interesting properties of nanotubes.  Though they were thinner than a hair, they were stronger than steel.  And a group of nanotubes placed close together could conduct electricity.  But the farther apart the nanotubes were, the weaker the electrical signal would be.

          Suddenly, all these ideas clicked in Andraka’s mind.  He began to wonder if he could use the properties of nanotubes and antibodies to test for mesothelin.  A scientist at nearby Johns Hopkins offered him space in the lab to work on his idea. 

          Andraka soon created a prototype for his test.  First, he coated a piece of absorbent filter paper with nanotubes.  Next, he added antibodies that would bind to mesothelin.  To run the test, he needed only a sixth of a drop of blood from a patient.  When the blood came into contact with the filter paper, if there was mesothelin present, the antibodies would bind to the protein and expand.  This would push the nanotubes farther away from each other, resulting in a weaker electric signal.  The weaker signal would be a positive test for pancreatic cancer.

“The Edison of Our Times”

          Andraka’s new test was hailed as a scientific breakthrough. In 2012, he was the winner of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the top science competition in the world.  At only 15 years old, he was being called “the Edison of our times.”  Andraka still has a long way to go, though, before his test can become widely available.  He is finding out just how complicated it can be to take a good invention from the lab to the marketplace.

10     He has already filed a patent for his invention.  But there is still much more testing to be done, and he is working on the next necessary step:  publishing a paper about his findings in one of those respected science journals he has been secretly reading in class.  It may be ten years before Andraka’s test is available to doctors – but when it finally becomes available, it will revolutionize the fight against pancreatic cancer.



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