Bioprocessing: Lesson Plan

ECU students work to produce new treatments with bioprocess engineering.

UNC-TV Media

Alignment to NC Essential Standards

  • NCES.8.L.2.1 — Summarize aspects of biotechnology

Learning Outcomes

Time Allotment Needed: 5 days (block schedule)

  • Students will understand how biotechnology is used to affect living organisms.
  • Students will summarize aspects of biotechnology including how it works, the ethical issues involves, how it benefits North Carolina economically and careers in biotechnology.

Essential Questions

  1. What is biotechnology? 
  2. What genetic information is used in biotechnology? 
  3. How does a specific example of biotechnology work? 
  4. How does biotechnology affect agriculture? 
  5. What are the ethical issues involved in the application of biotechnology? 
  6. How do certain types of biotechnology benefit North Carolina economically? 
  7. What types of careers are there in the field of biotechnology?

Engage

Students will watch BioByte 101 "What is Biotechnology?" to get a basic definition of biotechnology and how it is used.

Explore

In order to better understand current biotechnology research, students will view the NC Science Now video Bioprocessing. The work being done in a bioprocess engineering lab at East Carolina University is a great example of how biotechnology is being used to create pharmaceutical drugs that treat disease better than drugs of the past. After watching the video, students should answer the following questions. They can discuss their answers with a partner or in small groups. 

  1. What are three examples of products produced by bioprocess engineering? 
  2. Describe the major difference between bioprocess engineering and chemical engineering. 
  3. Why are medicines produced by bioprocess engineering injected rather than ingested? 
  4. What is Dr. Limberis referring to in his statement regarding “using the resources of the cell—its molecular machinery” to produce products? Be as specific as possible.

Explain

Students will expand their knowledge about how biotechnology is used to affect living organisms by working independently to research one of the following topics or choosing one of their own:

  • The use of biotechnology to develop new pharmaceutical drugs, such as how the use of the tobacco mosaic virus can help treat diseases such as cancer and HIV
  • The development and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture, such as the growth of GMO crops such as cotton, soybeans and peanuts 
  • The use of biotechnology to develop alternative energy sources, such as the use of genetically modified switchgrass, tobacco or corn as a biofuel.

Students should answer the following questions as they research: 

  1. What is the history of the use of biotechnology as related to your topic? 
  2. How is biotechnology used as related to your topic? 
  3. What are some advantages of using biotechnology as related to your topic? 
  4. What are some disadvantages of using biotechnology as related to your topic? 
  5. How can using biotechnology as related to your topic benefit the state of North Carolina economically? 
  6. What ethical issues are involved in the use of biotechnology as related to your topic? 
  7. What types of career opportunities are there in the field of biotechnology as related to your topic? What type of educational background is needed for people to work in this field? 

Students may use the resources below or other sources:

Extend

After students have completed their research in the Explain section, students will work in pairs or small groups to discuss what they have learned. As a guide for the discussion, students will answer the following questions. 

  1. What is biotechnology? What genetic information is used in biotechnology? 
  2. How does a specific example of biotechnology work? 
  3. How does biotechnology affect agriculture? 
  4. What are the ethical issues involved in the application of biotechnology? 
  5. How do certain types of biotechnology benefit North Carolina economically? 
  6. What types of careers are there in the field of biotechnology?

Evaluate

Students will summarize the work they completed in the Explain and Extend sections of this lesson in a blog post for middle school science students. Remind students to include the following information in their blog post.

  • An explanation of the biotechnology and how it works
  • The advantages and disadvantages of the biotechnology 
  • Any ethical issues associated with the biotechnology 
  • Any positive or negative impacts on agriculture 
  • A possible career path of a person who works with the biotechnology 
  • Any economic benefits to the state of North Carolina