Lesson 4 – Solutions and Sustainability
Description: This final lesson in the module culminates in a project in which students propose a biotech company based on what they have learned. This lesson has two activities to prepare students for their final projects – one to learn more about the gene editing tool, CRISPR/Cas9, and another to explore the math and economics of bioengineering for sustainability.
COURSE: Life Science, Environmental Science, Integrated Science, STEM, BioChem
UNIT: Photosynthesis, Ecology, Biogeochemical Cycling, Genetics
What students learn
- How to apply math to bioengineering scenarios in the form of scaling to predict resource allocation and cost.
- About the process of building their own hypothetical biotech company and work to produce a presentation worthy of funding.
- The basics of the CRISPR/cas9 system as an example of biotechnology that can be used to create organisms engineered to aid in mitigating carbon emissions.
What students do
- Students model CRISPR as an example of a bioengineering tool used to modify genomes in order to create desired phenotypes.
- Students apply mathematics to solve problems related to scaling in order to create a product that could potentially replace a petroleum-fueled product.
- Students produce a proposal for a biotech company that uses bioengineering to work towards sustainability, applying all of their knowledge gained during the unit. and present their proposal.
|Aligned Next Generation Science Standards|
|All three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards are addressed in this lesson. Please note that based on what part of this lesson you emphasize with students, you will cover different NGSS to different levels. Based on what is possible, we have listed here and in the buttons on the left the NGSS that are make the most sense to integrate and emphasize with this content. Please note that in the buttons on the left there are more SEPs and CCCs listed than in the chart below. That is because these other SEPs and CCCs are covered when students complete their algae experiments which span the entire length of the module.
HS-LS2-2 – Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
HS-LS2-7 – Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
HS-ESS3-4 – Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
HS-ETS1-1 – Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
HS-ETS1-2 – Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
2-3, 50 minute class periods
Before class, students should be familiar with DNA and how it contains our genotypes, transcription and translation in the central dogma (DNA -> RNA -> Protein), and general knowledge about carbon cycling.
This final lesson in the unit culminates in a project in which students propose a biotech company based on what they have learned. This lesson has two activities to prepare students for their final projects – one to learn more about the gene editing tool, CRISPR/Cas9, and another to explore the math and economics of bioengineering for sustainability. Begin this lesson by reminding students of the overarching goals of this unit that were outlined in lesson 1. Use this PowerPoint to share the objectives and agenda for this lesson.
In this activity, students will read a short handout about CRISPR/Cas9, watch videos (CRISPR: Revolutionary Gene Editing, CRISPR: Gene Editing and Beyond, CRISPR Lab Tour Video and/or the many others available), use paper cutouts to model the system, then apply their understanding to modify sentences as an analogy for genes. Make copies of the handout for all students and enough copies of the paper cutouts for students to work in pairs. Decide on a method for watching the videos – students could watch with headphones on their own devices, or you could play them for the whole class and lead a discussion before students transition into the activity.
Allow students to work their way through the activity at their own pace. Circulate and answer questions as needed. Encourage pairs to communicate with each other if they have questions or get stuck.
The last step of the activity is a reflection question. You can assess this question in the format of your choice – have students submit written answers as an exit ticket, or share answers verbally with neighbors and/or the whole class.
These questions guide students through a series of mathematical tasks to explore the economic realities of using algae to produce biofuel and making comparisons to petroleum. If your students have strong math skills, this could be a homework assignment, then debriefed the following day. It could also be a class activity in the format of your choice. You should either grade the papers for accuracy or share answers with the class and have students self-grade in order to ensure accuracy and address any errors or misconceptions before students begin their final projects.
FINAL PROJECT – BIOTECH STARTUP PROPOSAL
This final project will allow students to stretch their creative muscles and think about a way to use all the principles they have learned during this unit to propose an exciting new biotech company.
You can choose how to structure this project. Projects could be done individually or as small groups (max of 4, with your approval). They can also happen either in class or out of class, depending on schedule and resources. The whole project will take approximately 4 hours to complete.
As you introduce the project, remind students of the Current Events research project they did in lesson 1. They should take the research skills they developed, or perhaps the specific bioengineering topic they read about, and use it to build their background knowledge before proposing their company.
Use these resources, as you see fit for your students, to provide additional background resources, ideas and/or conversation starters. Ask students to list what they notice and what they wonder for each resource when watching and/or reading.
- ExxonMobil (Synthetic Genomics): Algae biofuels could one day power planes, propel ships, and fuel trucks. – https://vimeo.com/381215862
- 24 hours at an algae farm: Synthetic Genomics are growing acres of energy-rich algae, working day and night. – https://vimeo.com/381223392
- Algae CO2 Capture at the Univ. of Kentucky – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QI3Al1dpuUY
- Designer uses algae to make apparel – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tub788yUSQo
- Educational resource from NYTimes: Tinkering With Nature: Weighing the Benefits and Risks of Genetically Engineered Animals
- NYTimes Opinion: Don’t Be Afraid of Genetic Modification (Op-ed about a fairly simple genetic modification to salmon that causes them to grow much faster, and an argument in favor of the technology. Has a brief but clear explanation of the exact genetic modification – just 2 changes, including a regulatory site in the DNA)
- Forbes article: (Perhaps choose sections to provide students with more general information about the benefits of using algae)
- Article from a bioplastics company: Circular Economy (a bioplastics perspective on moving away from using non-renewable sources like petroleum)
Provide students with the project handout. This consists of a series of questions to guide students in working out their idea and flesh out their company. The project culminates in designing a presentation to pitch their company idea to the class and ask for “funding”. A fun twist on this idea would be to invite “celebrity judges” (other teachers, school staff, parent) to choose the best proposal(s) to receive funding. Evaluate student projects and their completion of the planning handout using the provided rubric.
You completed Instructional Activities. Please move to Assessment
- How will I know they know……
Scaling Problems – Teacher Key
- NGSS Alignment
- Objectives and Agenda PowerPoint
- CRISPR Activity
- CRISPER Cutouts
- CRISPR: Revolutionary Gene Editing Video
- CRISPR: Gene Editing and Beyond Video
- CRISPR Lab Tour Video
- Scaling Problems Student Worksheet
- Scaling Problems – Teacher Key
- BioTech Startup Final Project
- Biotech Startup Project Rubric
ELL students may benefit from a vocabulary list and peer notes that correspond with the module.