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Biotechnology Projects and Writing Assignments

by Lana Hays

Target Audience: 7-12


The projects and writing assignments presented can be used as an introduction to biotechnology, a unit of study in biotechnology, or as culminating events after the study of biotechnology. The projects provide a wide range of integrated topics that travel across the curriculum while addressing the various multiple intelligences and learning styles that exist among students. They also provide an excellent way to investigate biotechnology when budget constraints prevent the use of many labs.

Background Information

The purpose of the projects is to introduce students to the many areas of biotechnology. Today, students will be confronted with many aspects of science as they become productive adults. They will need a basic understanding to make adequate decisions about such things as the innocence or guilt of a defendant, the environment, diagnostic tests recommended, foods that are produced, or how they will be identified.
The projects and writing assignments offer students a choice of exploration that meets their individual needs and interests. It is recommended that students be given the options to choose, modify, or pose new projects, work individually or in small groups, and determine their mode of presentation (paper, computer presentation, display, video, etc.).


  1. Students will learn to use research tools to locate sources of information and construct meaning through reading, writing, computers and other technology.
  2. Students will develop their abilities to think, solve problems, and connect/integrate new knowledge to create a product that represents what they have learned in the area of biotechnology.

Biotechnology Projects

1. Create a time line of biotechnology events.

2. Research how biotech corporations work in the business world and follow several in the stock market.

3. Investigate how biotechnology can be used to help the environment.

4. Investigate how DNA testing will affect the judicial system.

5. Investigate what genetically engineered foods are being developed and by what companies.

6. Investigate current and past literature that uses biotechnology in the plot.

7. Compare plant, animal, and bacterial cell differences that lead to protocol differences in DNA extraction protocols.

8. Compile a list of states that accept or reject DNA testing. Determine why it is accepted or rejected in the state you live in.

9. Research the career aspects of a DNA fingerprint specialist to determine educational requirements, duties, salary, job availability, and prospects for the future.

10. Investigate mathematically how the statistics are derived for the odds of a match on DNA fingerprinting.

11. Research to find a state where there is a DNA data bank being used in the criminal system. Investigate how and when the system is used.

12. Investigate why people are opposed to genetically engineered foods and what organizations support this stand.

13. Create a brochure for potential users of a drug developed by biotechnology.

14. Investigate the civil liberties of discrimination and invasion of privacy as they apply to DNA data banks for convicted sex offenders.

15. Investigate the civil liberties of discrimination and invasion of privacy as they apply to the use of genetic information to determine eligibility for health insurance.

16. Create an advertisement for a product created by biotechnology.

17. Investigate how DNA fingerprinting is used to solve ancient mysteries.

18. Investigate how DNA fingerprinting is used to solve previously unsolved crimes or open a case to reevaluate evidence.

Writing Assignments

1 . Short Story: Create a crime, describe how the criminal was caught when some cells were left at the scene of the crime and the criminal was identified by DNA fingerprinting.

2. Defend a position: A state Supreme Court is debating whether or not to accept DNA fingerprints as valid evidence. Write to one of the judges defending the use of DNA fingerprints as evidence in a crime or defend the position of not allowing this as evidence.

3. Explain a process: You are a DNA technologist who must explain to a jury how a DNA fingerprint is made and what the odds are of matching two unrelated people.

4. Analyze or evaluate: Analyze or evaluate the DNA fingerprint as a valid means of identifying individuals.

5. Defend a position: The FBI advocates DNA profiling of convicts such as sex offenders. These profiles would then be stored in data banks for matching to tissue samples left at crime scenes. Defend the development of this system or oppose its development based on discrimination and invasion of privacy.

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