ABE offers many different types of teaching and learning resources that can be used to teach biology and biotechnology in secondary school settings. All ABE teaching and learning materials should be used for educational purposes only.
NOTE: ABE Teacher Guides are password protected Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, school/organization, and location, along with the module you are interested in accessing, to obtain the password.
The Foundations of Biotech labs are the core of ABE. Participating teachers receive a loaned kit (free of charge) with research-grade equipment and supplies that allow students to participate in advanced science laboratory investigations. Professional development for ABE teachers enables them to keep pace with scientific advances and technologies and to introduce their students to the latest scientific discoveries, especially those in pharmaceutical biotech. Teachers and students alike experience the excitement of participating in cutting-edge science with significant real-world applications.
The ABE classroom-based investigations are designed to engage students in exploring biology and biotechnology content with hands-on activities in the classroom. These materials do not include the use of laboratory equipment and can be carried out in regular classrooms, though they do involve hands-on activities and require the use of easily available materials.
ABE’s Web-based investigations are designed to allow students to explore biotechnology content online in a self-paced fashion. Educators can use these resources to supplement or extend biotechnology content.
ABE Lab-based Investigations
Foundations of Biotech
Foundations of Biotech labs were created to introduce students to biotech techniques and concepts; in these labs, students explore recombinant DNA technology. Sequences of these labs were designed to give options to teachers based on their available time and resources. Sequence options are listed below. View the entire Foundations of Biotech package of materials (all of the below sequences are included):
- Teacher Guide [7 MB] (password protected) | La Guía del profesor—todas secuencias (protección por contraseña)
- Student Guide [6 MB] | La Guía del estudiante—todas secuencias
- Overnight Culture: Preparing an Overnight Culture of E. coli for Plasmid Miniprep
- Plasmid Purification: Purification of pARA-R from an Overnight Culture
- Plasmid Confirmation: Restriction Analysis of Purified pARA-R
Complete Genetic Engineering Sequence (18–20 class sessions)
In the Complete Genetic Engineering Sequence, students explore how to use recombinant DNA techniques to introduce new genes into an organism and have that organism produce new proteins. In this sequence, students create a recombinant plasmid with a red fluorescent protein gene from a sea anemone. They then transform Escherichia coli (E. coli) with the plasmid. The process is analogous to the process used to produce human therapeutic protein proteins, such as insulin or human growth hormone.
Abridged Genetic Engineering Sequence (16–18 class sessions)
The Abridged Genetic Engineering Sequence is identical to the Complete Genetic Engineering Sequence except that students are provided with the recombinant plasmid rather than creating it themselves.
Focus on Bacteria Sequence (12–14 class sessions)
The Focus on Bacteria Sequence allows students to complete the process of bacterial transformation. In this sequence, students are provided with the plasmid that they use to transform the bacteria and do not complete the confirmation steps.
Introduction to Biotechnology Sequence (4–5 class sessions)
In the Introduction to Biotechnology Sequence, students read about the genetic engineering process and learn how to use basic biotechnology lab tools. By completing this sequence, students learn that specific tools are used in recombinant DNA techniques.
Colony PCR (1–2 class sessions)
The Colony PCR lab is designed to be used as part of Foundations of Biotech. In this lab, students sample a colony from one of their plates and perform PCR on it to confirm the presence of the desired plasmid.
- Teacher Guide (password protected) | Guía para el profesor (protección por contraseña)
- Student Guide | Guía para el estudiante
Exploring Precision Medicine
ABE’s Exploring Precision Medicine module explores the connections between genes and traits. Students learn how slight genetic differences can impact how well a patient responds to certain medications, and explore how future physicians may use DNA sequencing to inform clinical decision-making. Students examine how variations in a gene influence individuals’ abilities to taste the bitter compound “PTC,” and then consider how tiny differences in individuals' DNA might be responsible for variations in drug metabolism.
ABE Classroom-based Investigations
The ABE curricula are designed to engage students in exploring biology and biotechnology content with hands-on activities in the classroom. These materials do not include the use of laboratory equipment and can be carried out in regular classrooms, though they do involve hands-on activities and require the use of easily available materials.
Chasing Cystic Fibrosis (8–9 class sessions)
Students become engaged in learning about the disease cystic fibrosis (CF): they develop questions that they have about CF, its treatment, and its consequences, and then explore how they can transform their questions into scientific questions that can be investigated. Students also examine real data to determine how CF is inherited, experiment with osmosis to explore the disease’s possible mechanism of action, and investigate transcription and translation of CFTR exons.
- Teacher Guide (password-protected)
Clinical Trials: From Disease to Medicine (8–10 class sessions)
In the From Disease to Medicine module, students learn about the purpose and structure of clinical research by exploring the various phases of a clinical trial. Students investigate the timeline of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, taking on the role of researchers who are developing a promising new H1N1 vaccine. Throughout the module, students engage in different hands-on activities such as:
- Exploring the role of the placebo effect in clinical trials
- Developing recruiting materials for participants for a mock study
- Completing an application to begin a fictional clinical trial
The module asks students to consider the challenges of developing medicines and vaccines and the rigorous nature of the process. Students also explore how and why the design of clinical trials has evolved over time.
Exploring Precision Medicine
ABE’s classroom-based Exploring Precision Medicine mirrors the lab-based version but is designed for classroom use. The module explores the connections between genes and traits. Students learn how slight genetic differences can impact how well a patient responds to certain medications and explore how future physicians may use DNA sequencing to inform clinical decision-making. Working with classmates and using online resources, students examine how variations in a gene influence individuals’ abilities to taste the bitter compound “PTC,” and then consider how tiny differences in individuals' DNA might be responsible for variations in drug metabolism.
- Teacher Guide (password protected)
What Can We Learn from Extreme Phenotypes? (8–14 class sessions)
Students learn that genetics is more complex than the simple binary relationship it is often portrayed as having. They explore how extreme phenotypes can be used to inform our understanding of drug development and investigate some of the cutting edge techniques being used in biotechnology today, including genome wide association studies and CRISPR-Cas9.
- Teacher Guide (password-protected)
You Becoming You (6–8 class sessions)
Students are introduced to the concept of genes that code for the traits that are expressed by organisms and examine the genetics of some familiar organisms.
- Teacher Guide (Password-protected)
ABE Web-based Investigations
ABE’s eLearning resources are designed to allow students to explore biotechnology content online in a self-paced fashion. Educators can use these resources to supplement or extend biotechnology content.
Lyme disease is a pervasive problem in the United States. Kevin Esvelt, a scientist at MIT, is trying to use gene editing to disrupt the cycle of transmission. In this module, students learn about gene editing using the CRISPR process and consider the ethics of four case studies in which biotechnology is used to solve human problems. After learning about specific cases, students decide whether they agree or disagree with using gene editing to help solve a human problem and share their thoughts with their classmates.
Responding to a Mystery Illness
This resource is based on real events, though the timeline and details may have been changed to allow it to be used for educational purposes. As part of an imaginary WHO team, students help determine which organism is causing a mysterious illness first described in China, try to halt its spread, and begin the work of developing a vaccine.
This course is also available on LabXchange using class code 537DF0.
A man drinks an unknown liquid and soon is found unresponsive in an emergency room. Students use bioinformatics tools to investigate what substance caused such a life-threatening response.
Many people are aware of the main two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. However, few people know that there are other types of diabetes. One type occurs in pregnant women (gestational diabetes), but there are others still. A rare type of diabetes is called maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY). MODY is frequently misdiagnosed as type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Different types of diabetes require different treatments, so determining the genetics of diabetes becomes important in developing and prescribing treatments.
In this module, students use bioinformatics to study a Norwegian family in which several members had MODY to better understand the causes of this rare genetic disorder and also to learn more about insulin.