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Welcome to the World of Biotechnology

It's Time to Eat!



This activity serves as an introduction to the entire unit on biotechnology and food. Here, students will gain an appreciation for the age and diverse scope of biotechnology by observing applications to food items throughout a long history of humankind's utilization of living systems in food preparation and production. Stations will be set up around the classroom. At each station will be a food of a specific time period which has an associated biotechnology application. A brief description of the food/technology association and related questions for students will also be at each station.


  • Students will gain an appreciation of the ubiquitousness of biotechnology applications in food production and processing.
  • Students will gain some perspective as to when various techniques of biotechnology were introduced.
  • Students will brainstorm as to how living systems/organisms function to alter a food product.


  • food item for each time period. The following are the foods suggested in this activity. However, there are many other appropriate examples. Teachers may want to customize this part of the activity according to appropriate foods that are readily available and not too expensive:
    • B.C. time period: leavened bread
    • 1 A.D. –1900 A.D. : peas
    • 900–1970: corn (hybrids are the focus here)
    • 1970–1996: milk
    • Future: tomatoes, peanuts, potato chips, popcorn (any or all of these may be represented for this time period)
    • paper plates, cups, bowls, and utensils as needed for each station.
    • informational 3 x 5 card for each time period
    • Challenge Questions 3 x 5 card for each time period.
    • Student Answer Sheet
    • Teacher Additional Background Information Sheet

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