Teaching Unit Template
Title of Unit/Module
Genetically Modified Foods
ARISE Planning Team
Brief Summary of the Unit
Students isolate DNA from various plant sources and PCR for the promoter to an
herbicide resistance gene, then run these samples on an agarose gel to visualize
the DNA and interpret which plants are genetically engineered.
Students also read, report and discuss the ethical, social and environmental
effects of such genetically modified foods in a debate or EU committee type
Grade Span Expectations Content Standards
(possible GSEs) (possible standards from Benchmarks for
LS1 (9-11) 2b Science Literacy)
LS2 (9-11) 3b 1B Scientific Inquiry a
LS2 (9-11) 5b 1C Scientific Enterprise c
LS3 (9-11) 6a 3A Technology and Science a
LS4 (9-11) 9b 3B Design and Systems d
3C Issues in Technololgy a, c, d
5C Cells c, d
5D Interdependence of Life c
See appendicies for full text of GSEs.
8A Agriculture a,c
12A Values and Attitudes a
See appendicies for full text of benchmarks.
Students should already have a basic understanding of heredity, Mendelian
genetics, and the structure and function of DNA as a molecule and unit of
Also, students must have an understanding of elementary laboratory safety skills
What essential questions will be considered?
How do scientists manipulate DNA and the genome of an organism?
What ethical issues arise from genomic manipulation? And what societal
Students will know: Students will be able:
How Polymerase Chain Reaction works to To form a testable hypothesis based
amplify DNA fragments. upon observation.
How gel electrophoresis works to To extract DNA, make up a mix for PCR,
separate nucleic acids based upon size and run the resulting samples on a gel.
and charge. To analyze their bands on the gel to
Have a new understanding of what we determine if their PCR results were
are eating and how that food is what they had expected, and how this
produced. data refutes or supports their
How to read an article with scientific hypothesis.
content for bias to obtain information.
How to incorporate multiple sources of
information or data on a topic into a
coherent argument on a scientific and
What will the students produce to provide evidence of understandings and
Other evidence of learning (quizzes, tests, prompts, observations, lab reports,
work samples, etc.)
Formative: Lab notebook from each student including hypothesis, all procedures,
data (picture of gel), places for error, and conclusions.
Reading Comprehension worksheet from each student
Written questions and potential hypotheses to use for the lab
Participation in class brainstorming sessions
Summative: Lab report for each student, including introduction, hypothesis,
methods, results, conclusions and discussion
Group written recommendation of EU summit
Participation and ideas presented at EU summit
Student Self-assessment and Reflection:
LEARNING EXPERIENCES AND INSTRUCTION
Features of Inquiry* How is this feature included in the unit?
1, Formulating questions and From observations students will work together to formulate
hypothesizing a testable hypothesis
2. Planning and Critiquing of After performing the experiment students will read articles
Investigations and discuss the results in relation to their own results
3. Conducting Investigations Students will perform experiments to address their specific
hypothesis in a logical manner with appropriate controls
4. Developing and Evaluating When interpreting the results of their experiments
Explanations students will evaluate the validity of their hypothesis,
making new theories, asking further questions, and
determining areas of error and problems
Instructional Sequence/Calendar – see separate page for calendar
DAY 1 Introduction to unit, discussion of rubrics and activities
1. What is the definition of Genetic Modification?
2. Is natural crossing, and making hybrids Genetic Modification?
3. Have you ever eaten GM food?
4. Do GM foods taste any different than non-GM foods? Could they?
Homework: Write out questions you might be interested in about GMOs. Try to form hypotheses
for these and think about how to test these.
DAY 2 Scientific introduction, how scientists genetically modify plants
Hypothesis driven experimentation
Making a testable hypothesis:
1. Is there GM in any foods we eat?
2. Can we find the Roundup Ready gene in wild plants?
3. Does being GM affect the plant?
4. Do Roundup Ready soy plants resist treatment with Roundup?
DAY 3 Preparation for the lab
Who will bring what samples? Making groups
Lab exercise: Electrophoresis of cool-aid
How electrophoresis works and what can we learn from it?
Homework: Read through lab manual and write down anything that is not clear to you, start writing
in your lab notebook procedures, the hypothesis and anything else that seems relevant.
DAY 4 Lab exercise: DNA isolation
Set up PCR (send off)
Homework: Continue with writing in lab notebook procedures and activities, note especially where
you did something different from the protocol given and explain why.
DAY 5 Socratic reading set up
1. Should companies tell you if they use GM crops in food products?
2. Do these GM foods hurt us in any way?
3. Can GM crops have any adverse effects on the environment?
4. Can GM crops get out into the wild?
5. What kinds of benefits do GM crops provide?
6. How are GM crops and foods regulated in the US? What is the role of the USDA, EPA, FDA
Homework: Read the paper assigned and answer the questions about it on the “Reading
Comprehension” handout that includes questions: What is they hypothesis or view point that the
paper is written about? What pieces of evidence do they use to support this view? What purpose
did they have in writing this article/paper? Who is their target audience?
DAY 6 Group reading and discussion
1. How has the media reported on GM food?
2. Which side of argument does your reading support?
3. What facts, pieces of evidence, data do they use to support their point?
4. Are all these pieces of information scientifically accurate? What errors or problems can be
found with a particular experiment or line of reasoning?
Homework: Bring together information from your group’s reading to develop an argument in support
or against the use of genetically modified food for the EU summit. Each student will have useful
information to contribute, make sure everyone is included.
DAY 7 Lab exercise: Electrophorese PCR samples
Interpret results: Which DNA samples worked?
Which samples had the PCR product? What does this mean about the sample?
Where could or did things go wrong, error, and what can be done in future to rectify this problem?
Homework: Finish lab notebook and EU summit argument, start on lab report.
DAY 8 Simulated hearing of European Union on Genetically Modified Foods – In support of GMFs
Utilizing both readings and lab data explain in a concise argument why GM food is a useful
1. How does society decide whether to use a new technology?
2. How much regulation is required to save us from ourselves?
DAY 9 Simulated hearing of European Union on Genetically Modified Foods – In opposition to GMFs
Can we really turn our back on something that could make life better?
DAY 10 Summation of hearing and written recommendations
Poster presentations creation, aspects of scientific writing
DAY 11 Lab reports and written assignments due
Discussion of how to make the lab better, what was enjoyed and what needs work
* See the Tristate Schema for Assessing Scientific Inquiry for 13 possible
tasks for the 4 Broad Areas of Inquiry
Technology and Other Resources Needed
Plants, seeds, and foods from genetically modified and not modified organisms for
PCR tubes, reagents, primers for 35S promoter, and thermalcycler
Pre-poured agarose gels, gel running apparatus
Poster presentation materials
Grade Span Expectations for the Genetically Modified Foods Unit
LS1 (9-11) 2
Students demonstrate an understanding of the molecular basis for heredity by…
2b Explaining how DNA may be altered and how this affects genes/heredity (e.g.
substitution, insertion, deletion)
Students demonstrate understanding of equilibrium in an ecosystem by…
3b Describing ways in which humans modify ecosystems and describe and predict the
Students will evaluate potential bias form a variety of media sources in how information is
5b Applying additional scientific data to develop logical arguments concerning
Students will demonstrate their understanding of the degree of relationships among
6a Using given data (diagrams, charts, narratives, etc.) and advances in technology to
explain how our understanding of genetic variation has developed over time.
Students demonstrate an understanding of how humans are affected by environmental
factors and/or heredity by…
9b Providing an explanation of how the human species impacts the environment and other
Benchmarks for Science Literacy
1B Scientific Inquiry
By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that:
a. Investigations are conducted for different reasons, including to explore new phenomena,
to check on previous results, to test how well a theory predicts, and to compare different
C Scientific Enterprise
c. Progress in science and invention depends heavily on what else is happening in
society, and history often depends on scientific and technological developments.
f. Scientists can bring information, insights, and analytical skills to bear on matters of
public concern. Acting in their areas of expertise, scientists can help people understand
the likely causes of events and estimate their possible effects. Outside their areas of
expertise, however, scientists should enjoy no special credibility. And where their own
personal, institutional, or community interests are at stake, scientists as a group can be
expected to be no less biased than other groups are about their perceived interests.
3A Technology and Science
a. Technological problems often create a demand for new scientific knowledge, and new
technologies make it possible for scientists to extend their research in new ways or to
undertake entirely new lines of research. The very availability of new technology itself
often sparks scientific advances.
3B Design and Systems
d. Risk analysis is used to minimize the likelihood of unwanted side effects of a new
technology. The public perception of risk may depend, however, on psychological factors as
well as scientific ones.
3C Issues in Technology
a. Social and economic forces strongly influence which technologies will be developed and
used. Which will prevail is affected by many factors, such as personal values, consumer
acceptance, patent laws, the availability of risk capital, the federal budget, local and
national regulations, media attention, economic competition, and tax incentives.
c. In deciding on proposals to introduce new technologies or to curtail existing ones, some
key questions arise concerning alternatives, risks, costs, and benefits. What alternative
ways are there to achieve the same ends, and how do the alternatives compare to the plan
being put forward? Who benefits and who suffers? What are the financial and social
costs, do they change over time, and who bears them? What are the risks associated with
using (or not using) the new technology, how serious are they, and who is in jeopardy?
What human, material, and energy resources will be needed to build, install, operate,
maintain, and replace the new technology, and where will they come from? How will the new
technology and its waste products be disposed of and at what costs?
d. The human species has a major impact on other species in many ways: reducing the
amount of the earth's surface available to those other species, interfering with their food
sources, changing the temperature and chemical composition of their habitats, introducing
foreign species into their ecosystems, and altering organisms directly through selective
breeding and genetic engineering.
d. The genetic information encoded in DNA molecules provides instructions for assembling
protein molecules. The code used is virtually the same for all life forms. Before a cell
divides, the instructions are duplicated so that each of the two new cells gets all the
necessary information for carrying on.
5D Interdependence of Life
c. Human beings are part of the earth's ecosystems. Human activities can, deliberately or
inadvertently, alter the equilibrium in ecosystems.
a. New varieties of farm plants and animals have been engineered by manipulating their
genetic instructions to produce new characteristics.
c. Agricultural technology requires tradeoffs between increased production and
environmental harm and between efficient production and social values. In the past
century, agricultural technology led to a huge shift of population from farms to cities and
a great change in how people live and work.
12A Values and Attitudes
a. Know why curiosity, honesty, openness, and skepticism are so highly regarded in science
and how they are incorporated into the way science is carried out; exhibit those traits in
their own lives and value them in others.