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Mia's Case: Who Needs Biotechnology?



In the context of an engaging case study, students express their initial impressions of biotechnology, clarify their understanding of what it is all about and investigate its past and present impacts on society as well as their own lives. Lessons and activities are organized into 3 parts or sections.

MINDS ON: Students read a short case study that describes how Mia, an environmentally-conscious high school student feels about biotechnology. The reading is followed by a Graffiti Exercise designed to reveal the students’ present attitudes and understanding of the process. A video is then provided to summarize the nature of biotechnology and the range of products it provides.

ACTION: Students review a biotechnology time-line and backgrounders on Genomics and Applications of Biotechnology. Using a graphic organizer, they individually identify 3 biotech innovations of interest that have been developed during their lifetime. These are shared with the other students. The class then tries to reach consensus on the top 3.

CONSOLIDATION: Students complete a Poster Project to communicate the relevance of biotechnology for society today. The target audience is their peer group. The content and design is determined by the students. A student guide and assessment rubric is included.

Access to all supplementary resources and support materials needed to complete the activities has been provided.


General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • creating a poster project
  • building consensus


This STEM resource provides an engaging introduction to biotechnology. It's intent is to inform and interest the students in biotechnology and its impact on their lives.  It is not intended as a comprehensive or in-depth examination of the technology itself. offers a number of other lessons and videos for use following this introduction.


Concerns about the promise and safety of biotechnology are raised in the case study but not included in the video and backgrounders used in the lessons.  There are additional lesson plans and videos available in this database that can be used along with Mia's Case to better represent alternate perspectives.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource will support those curriculum areas in Science and Biology that address cell chemistry, DNA and genetic continuity.  It offers an especially effective introduction to biotechnology.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Sustainable Resources 11: Agriculture
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Sustainable Resources 12: Agricultural : Supports and Challenges
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Current Topics in the Sciences 30S: Science, Technology, Society & the Environment
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology: Mechanisms of Inheritance
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interdisciplinary Topics in Science 40S: Science, Technology, Society and the Environment
  • New Brunswick
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    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Genetic Continuity
        • Biology 122/121
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
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    • Grade 12
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      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 3201: Genetic Continuity
  • Northwest Territories
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    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 30: Cell Division, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Nova Scotia
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    • Grade 10
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 12: Genetic Continuity
  • Ontario
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    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Exploring Technologies (Open): Technology, the Environment and Society:
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 11(Univer.Prep.) Genetic Processes
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Univ./College Prep.) Biotechnology
        • Science (Workplace Preparation): Nutritional Science
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 621A: Genetic Continuity
  • Quebec
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Applied Science & Technology: The Technological World
        • Science and Technology: The Technological World
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 30: Genetics and Biotechnology

Themes Addressed

  • Food & Agriculture (1)

    • Biotechnology
  • Science and Technology (1)

    • Appropriate Technology

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

The case study raises concerns for biotechnology and provides opportunity for students to express their opinions.  From this point on attention is directed at the contributions of Biotechnology. 

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

This STEM resource is primarily dedicated to promoting an understanding of biotechnology and its role in society today.  Backgrounders and student activities so focus on the environmental, economic and social dimensions of biotechnology.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

While introductory in its design, the resource does communicate the complexity of the technology and some of the issues related to it.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

A a student-designed poster project to consolidate learning and communicate findings to others is a core activity of this resource.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Very Good

There are numerous opportunities, including the poster project activity, for students to clarify and express their perspectives on the role of biochemistry in today's society.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

The role of biotechnology in addressing many of our concerns for the natural world is a point of emphasis in this resource.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

A real effort is made to illustrate how biotechnology has impacted students during their lifetime.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Very Good

The timeline activity specifically highlights past, present and future applications of biotechnology.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

The lessons are designed for students to analyze and reflect on the information they are presented with. 

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

This is a STEM resource that successfully illustrates how biotechnology involves the integration of these distinct disciplines.  The activities however do not require the students to practice or demonstrate competency in all four.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Good

Students are involved in several different learning activities that include reading, viewing, listening/discussing and creating.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

The students are given the task of communicating their perspectives by completing a poster project.  However, the resource would be much improved with the inclusion of an opportunity to carry out or practice biotechnology techniques themselves.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good

Suggestions for assessment are included with each lesson.  A rubric accompanies the student poster project.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Good

The poster project is aimed at informing and influencing others.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

The resource relies on an engaging case study to introduce biotechnology and begin the discussion of what it's all about.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

Students are given the task of creating a poster project.  The content and format is up to the individual.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.