Pharma Quest: Lesson Plan

Learn about how biotechnology is used to affect living organisms, especially in the pharmaceutical, agricultural and alternative energy industries. Then explore how scientists in North Carolina are using biotechnology to develop new pharmaceutical drugs that will better treat diseases such as diabetes.

UNC-TV Media

Alignment to NC Essential Standards

  • 8.L.2.1 — Summarize aspects of biotechnology including:
    • Specific genetic information available
    • Careers
    • Economic benefits to North Carolina
    • Ethical Issues
    • Implications for agriculture

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 involved, 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?

Essential Vocabulary

  • Biotechnology 
  • DNA 
  • Microbe 
  • Genetic engineering
  • Genes 
  • Mutation 
  • Genetically modified organisms 
  • Genome 
  • Biofuel 
  • Pharmaceuticals 
  • Agrobacterium tumefaciens

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 Pharma Quest. The work of researchers at North Carolina Central University’s BRITE 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 is insulin?
  2. What is type 2 diabetes? 
  3. How is Dr. Sexton’s research related to type 2 diabetes? 
  4. If the results of Dr. Sexton’s research are successful, how will this biotechnology benefit humans?

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? 
  8. What type of educational background is needed for people to work in this field? 

As students conduct their research, they should define appropriate vocabulary terms.

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? 
  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?

Additional Resources:

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

Evaluation Rubric