This is an NFSA Digital Learning resource. See all Digital Learning websites.

Please read the conditions of usage in the Copyright Policy.

Buying this Video Clip:
You can buy a DVD containing all the Video Clips shown on this site.

About the Video Clip:

Video Clip Synopsis:
An egg is collected from a woman’s ovary and placed in a test tube to be fertilised by her husband’s sperm. Once the embryo is growing normally it is placed back in the uterus.

1min 11sec

Test Tube Babies is an excerpt from the film Medical and Scientific (12 mins), an episode of the series Australia in the 80s (6 x 12 mins), produced in 1982.

Medical and Scientific: A look at Australia’s contribution to science and medical technology and research in the 1980s including innovations in radio astronomy, solar energy and tools and techniques for medical diagnosis, microsurgery and IVF.

Australia in the 80s: This series gives a kaleidoscopic impression of the vivid variety and vigor of a nation still developing. As absorbing as the screen image, is the fact-filled commentary. Together they produce a lively film to tell the world about Australia in the 80s.

Australia in the 80s was produced by Motion Pictures Associates for Film Australia.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: Science
Year: 9-10
Strand: Biological science, human biology
Theme: Science Work

Key Concepts

Human reproduction and reproductive technology

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Science: Life and Living (High school)
NSW:Science: Stage 5.1, 5.5, 5.12
NT:Science WS 5.5, CC 5.5
Qld:Science: Science and Society 6.1, 6.3, D6.4, D6.5
Science: Life and Living D6.5, DB6.2
SA:Science: Life systems 5.5
Tas:Personal Futures: Building and maintaining Identity and Relationships, Being Ethical Standard 5
World Futures: Investigating the Natural and Constructed World Standard 5
Vic:Science: Biological science 5.3, 6.5
WA:Science in Society, Life and Living (Early adolescence)

Context / Background Information

Australians have been at the forefront of advances in many areas of medical technology. One of these areas is in vitro fertilisation (IVF). IVF improves the fertility of couples who are unable able to get pregnant in the normal way. IVF increases the chance of fertilisation of the woman's egg by taking it out of her body and placing it in a test tube, where the husband's sperm is added. Once fertilisation has taken place, the embryo is placed into the woman's uterus with the hope that a normal pregnancy can occur.

The first step in the IVF procedure involves using fertility drugs to force the woman's body to produce many eggs at ovulation. These are harvested and more than one egg becomes fertilised. A number of eggs are implanted and often multiple births occur. Alternatively, the unused embryos can be stored.

IVF technology also paved the way for surrogacy. Women who do not have a functioning uterus can have their eggs fertilised and implanted into another woman's uterus.

This video clip, which was filmed in 1982, shows one of the early IVF pioneers, Professor Carl Wood. At this time, the success rate of IVF was fairly low, with only 20% of IVF procedures resulting in a successful birth.

Discussion Pointers

Discuss what students know about reasons for infertility. Discuss infertility from the point of view of male and female anatomy and physiology.

Discuss the issues facing infertile couples. Why do couples want children? Is there any social stigma attached to couples who can’t have children? What other options are there for infertile couples?

Brainstorm famous Australian scientists and what they achieved. Why are scientists less well known than famous sports people or actors?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Before watching the video clip, students could brainstorm all that they know about IVF.
  2. Look up the meanings of the following words: in vitro, in vivo, embryo, sperm, egg, ovulation
  3. What is meant by the term ‘test tube baby’?
  4. Prepare a labelled diagram of the male and female reproductive systems.
  5. Identify the sites where the following take place:
    • Ovulation
    • Sperm production
    • Fertilisation
    • Implanting of the embryo
  6. Look at the human reproductive system and explain the following:
    • The physical barriers that the sperm cells have to overcome to reach an egg
    • Why many more sperm are produced than are needed to reach an egg
    • The menstrual cycle and how often ovulation occurs
    • Factors that adversely affect ovulation and sperm production.
  7. When IVF was first introduced, many people believed it was morally wrong because scientists were interfering with nature. Many people object to IVF on religious grounds. Debate the pros and cons of IVF.

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 9-10, Science Year 9-10, Science Year 11-12