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Collection of Reviewed Teaching Resources

Protein: Bio-Engineering: Making and Testing Model Proteins

Subject taught
- Biology
- Math
- Technology


Type of Product
- Articles
- Exercises
- Lesson Plans
- Online lab
- Videos
- Web Site/Portal

Language Skills Developed
- Interaction
- Listening
- Reading
- Speaking
- Writing

Transferable/Scientific Skills Developed
Students will develop observing skills, measuring skills, analytical skills, critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, collaborative learning.

In this activity, like bio-engineers, students imagine and create structures that model the functions of specific proteins and then test how well they perform, all while guided by the engineering design process.

General aims: Students will develop an understanding of the attributes of design, an understanding of the role of troubleshooting, research and development, invention and innovation, and experimentation in problem solving, an understanding of engineering design.

Subject specific aims:
• Explain that proteins are composed of amino acids.
• Describe the functions of three proteins.
• Brainstorm, sketch and build model proteins using common materials.
• After testing, modify their models to improve effectiveness and better meet requirements.
• Keep records of the design and proficiency of the tested models.
• Communicate to others the model design and its strengths and weaknesses.
• Compare the strengths and weaknesses of other models to their own and reflect on ideas that might improve their own designs.

Linguistic aims:
- to listen English with ease
-to read English with ease
- to understand content
- to learn from written texts
- to express opinion
- to enable students to understand topic correctly
- to translate English words into the mother tongue using their own words.

This task is aimed at students of 14-16 years old.
Level of competence in English (CEFR): B1 +/B2
Time required to use the resource with the students: 1 hours 45 minutes (Conduct 1, 2 or 3 challenges; each takes 75-100 mins or 1.5-2 class periods)

How to use it: students act as if they are biological engineers following the steps of the engineering design process to design and create protein models to replace the defective proteins in a child’s body (group, pair work).
Jumping off from a basic understanding of DNA and its transcription and translation processes, students learn about the many different proteins types and what happens if protein mutations occur.
Then they focus on structural, transport and defense proteins during three challenges posed by the R&D bio-engineering hypothetical scenario. Using common classroom supplies such as paper, tape and craft sticks, student pairs design, sketch, build, test and improve their own protein models to meet specific functional requirements: to strengthen bones (collagen), to capture oxygen molecules (hemoglobin) and to capture bacteria (antibody). By designing and testing physical models to accomplish certain functional requirements, students come to understand the relationship between protein structure and function. They graph and analyze the class data, then share and compare results across all teams to determine which models were the most successful. Includes a quiz, three worksheets and a reference sheet.

Students are provided with hand out material (also useful links) that helps to raise knowledge, is needed to do exercises, gather information and complete the engineering Design Processes (Challenges).

Teacher use the sequence of activities (in details and algorithms for expected situations) given in this resource guiding students through:
Pre-Req Knowledge,Introduction/Motivation, Procedure:
• Activity Overview
• Science Background
• Engineering Design Process
• Before the Modeling Structural Proteins Challenge 1
• Day 1 with the Students: Protein Shapes Affect Their Functions—Structural
• Before the Modeling Transport Proteins Challenge 2
• Day 2 with the Students: Protein Shapes Affect Their Functions—Transport
• Before the Modeling Defense Proteins Challenge 3
• Day 3 with the Students: Protein Shapes Affect Their Functions—Defense

Student worksheets is based on Engineering Design Process:
• Brainstorm
• Design
• Build
• Test and evaluate
• Redesign
• Test and re-evaluate
• Compare

Students are required a basic understanding of DNA, traits, mutations, parts of the cell such as ribosomes, and the basic steps of the engineering design process.

Possible difficulties for the students: students who have poor knowledge of English may have difficulties to understand the content and to implement engineering design process.

Strengths: students not only learn more topic related words but also expand their knowledge on the surrounding environment. Students learn to design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering. Weakness: teacher should distribute activities over several lessons, considering which reading tasks to give children to perform at home. Scientific reliability: The source is scientifically reliable as correspond to Educational Standards • NGSS: Next Generation Science Standards - Science • Common Core State Standards - Math • International Technology and Engineering Educators Association - Technology • State Standards Pedagogical values: collaborative learning, peer assisted learning, language development across the curriculum, interdisciplinary, teaching complex thinking, teaching through conversation, contextualization, empowering creativity.

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