Biotechnology Lecture & Note Guide

BiotechCoverThis PowerPoint presentation and student note guide handout contains 29 slides introducing Biotechnology and an 11-page handout for students to fill in during the lecture. I have used it with Biology classes and Forensics classes. It includes the explanations of restriction enzymes, gel electrophoresis, PCR, recombinant DNA and transformation, genomics, and proteomics.
This presentation with class discussion would take 90 minutes or more in my classroom, depending on the depth of discussion. The student note guide is included as both an editable Word document and a PDF file. The powerpoint file is also editable!

Available through my TeachersPayTeachers store for a small fee:


Anticipating the NGSS

As schools all over the country re-evaluate their curriculum to meet the Common Core Standards, we science teachers are left in a predicament!  Yes, there are some aspects of the Common Core that we must evaluate and incorporate into our science courses, but we don’t have a new set of standards…..yet!  In my school district we have spent a lot of PD time curriculum mapping and that has been a very worthwhile effort.  The only downside is that we are anticipating some changes to our courses with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  The NGSS are scheduled for release this month!  After the release we need to wait on our state to determine whether they will adopt the NGSS as is, with modifications, or not at all.  The likely answer is that they will adopt the NGSS, as Massachusetts is one of the 26 states who are working to create them, but they could choose to adopt them with modifications.  And the science teachers continue to wait……

While we wait…..

I have reviewed the NGSS drafts and have taken some insight from them already that informs my practice.  Until this review I hadn’t specifically concerned myself with the Crosscutting Concepts and the Science and Engineering Practices.  I now have them displayed on my classPractices-thumbroom wall as a reminder of what we should be learning besides science content.  I find it very helpful for students to see them and reflect on what they are.  As we do an activity I can ask the class, “Which of the Practices or Crosscutting Concepts applies to this lesson?”  I’m enjoying the discussions.

Moving forward….

I am happy with the paradigm shift taking place where we expand our focus from ‘content only’ to ‘content and practice.’  It really makes perfect sense!  I was able to attend an AP Biology Summer Content Institute last year and was pleased to find that the course has undergone a major revision with the same theme.  The 12 ‘cookbook’ labs that we all know and love, The Dirty Dozen, have been revised or replaced with inquiry labs.  I’ll be writing about this in another post!  And the content that is required for the course has been slightly modified as well to focus on higher order thinking and understanding as opposed to memorization of content.  Even the AP test questions have been revised to have longer question prompts that require a student to process information in order to answer the question prompt.  Change is coming with the NGSS and I think it will benefit our students in the long term.
Below are the Science and Engineering Practices and the Crosscutting Concepts, and my posters that are displayed in my classroom.  You are welcome to take them for your classroom.

Science and Engineering Practices

1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
2. Developing and using modelsConcepts-thumb
3. Planning and carrying out investigations
4. Analyzing and interpreting data
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
7. Engaging in argument from evidence
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Crosscutting Concepts

2.Cause and Effect
3.Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
4.Systems and System Models
5.Energy and Matter in Systems
6.Structure and Function
7.Stability and Change of Systems

Click here for the Classroom Posters in pdf form.

Micropipettor Basics

This is a 45-65 minute activity that has students practice measuring small amounts of liquid using a micropipettor. Micropipettors are a new standard tool in laboratories and if you are lucky enough to have them in your classroom then this activity will get your students started in proper measuring technique before that first real lab that requires them to measure microliters of materials. The .zip file includes both a word file and pdf for your use in class. You can download them and use them as is. Students learn proper measuring technique, practice some sample measurements with water, and then create a rainbow by designing a procedure for measuring very small amounts of different colored water into 6 different microtubes in order to create a rainbow of either increasing volumes, decreasing volumes, or equal volumes in each tube. A sample answer key is included!

Equipment required:Micropipettor

  • Micropipettors (I have a set of 6 p20 micropipettors that accurately measure from 2-20 microliters)
  • Pipet tips
  • Microtubes (1.5mL)
  • Food coloring (stock solutions of colored water)

You can get micropipettors from any vendor that you choose.  I’ve included the following links to micropipettors that will work with this activity only to help you – Bio-rad, Sargent Welch, Edvotek.  The handout can be edited to match different models.

This is a FREE activity that is available through my TeachersPayTeachers Store: