Biotech Connections

Student Resources
Hand with globe
Teacher Resources

Genetically modified corn

Genetically modified corn (AP Images)

























build background knowledge




Check your understanding

Biotechnology is the term for techniques of managing biological systems for human benefit. The best-known form of biotechnology is genetic engineering, which involves altering the genes of a living organism. Other examples of biotechnology include cell cultures (growths of animal or plant cells in the laboratory) and monoclonal antibodies (specialized protein molecules). Biotechnology has important applications in medicine, agriculture, industry, and other fields. For example, genetically altered microbes can manufacture a wide range of products, including human protein drugs, animal growth hormones, and raw materials for industrial chemicals. However, biotechnology has generated public concern, particularly about the ethics and safety of certain biotechnology applications like genetic engineering. In the United States, a number of federal agencies regulate biotechnological research and its products.

Source: Maugh, Thomas H. , II. "Biotechnology." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2011.

Check out some of these amazing biotechnology advances:

Biotechnology is a dynamic field with expanding career opportunities. Many community colleges and universities offer programs of study and internships in the field of biotechnology. You might find yourself working in biotechnology some day.

Charm City R and D logo

Research Scenario

Suppose your employer, Charm City Research and Development Corporation, wants to invest in the development of some new biotechnology applications for its Materials, Thermal, and Optical divisions. For each division, members of your research team will need to investigate a specific biotechnology application according to these criteria:

  • Societal need/benefits
  • Technical considerations
  • Resource availability and environmental impact
  • Financial considerations and economic impact
  • Ethical or moral implications

Each member of the research team will develop a project proposal for the biotech application he/she investigated and present it to the team. After analyzing these applications according to the criteria, you will choose one biotech application to recommend to the Charm City R& D Board of Directors in order to answer the essential question:

Which applications of biotechnology should be
pursued for investment and development?

First, you will need to build some background knowledge about biotechnology:

What is Biotechnology? What are some of the ethical issues?

  • Overview of Biotechnology
    "Biotechnology." World of Microbiology and Immunology. Ed. Brenda Wilmoth Lerner and K. Lee Lerner. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Gale Science In Context. Web. 15 Aug. 2011.
  • Biotechnology: Ethical Issues
    "Biotechnology: Ethical Issues." Genetics. Ed. Richard Robinson. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. Gale Science In Context. Web. 15 Aug. 2011.

What are some pros and cons of biotechnology?

Read these opposing viewpoint essays on some benefits and risks of biotechnology. Take the quiz at the end of each article to check your comprehension.

After considering the pros and cons, compose a brief written argument in favor of one side of the issue or the other. Support your argument with details from the articles you read.















Task and Product

You will be working on three separate projects with the Materials, Thermal, and Optical Divisions of Charm City R& D. For each Division project, your task will be to gather information about one specific biotechnology application. You will use your research findings and a technology tool to create and present a project proposal for the application you researched. After all members of the research team have presented their proposals, you will analyze and compare these biotech applications according to the criteria:

  • Societal need/benefits
  • Technical considerations
  • Resource availability and environmental impact
  • Financial considerations and economic impact
  • Ethical or moral implications

Finally, you will make a recommendation to the Charm City R & D Board of Directors to identify which biotech application the company should invest in, justifying your recommendation with details from your team's research and analysis.

As you work with each Charm City R&D Division, select one of the following biotech applications to investigate. Check with your teacher if you have another biotech application in mind.

Materials Applications

  • Biofuel
  • Joint replacements
  • Artificial ligaments and tendons
  • Dental implants for tooth fixation
  • Blood vessel prostheses
  • Heart valves
  • Skin repair devices (artificial tissue)
  • Cochlear replacements
  • Biopolymers and bioplastics
    • Plasma Polymerization
    • Synthetic Polymer Scaffolds
  • Nanotubes
  • Hydrogel
  • Bioglass
  • Biological Warfare

Thermal Applications

  • Solar Energy
    • Solar Panels
    • Photovoltaic Cells
  • Water Energy
    • Hydraulic Power
    • Hydroelectric Power
  • Wind Energy
    • Windmills
    • Wind Turbines
Optical Applications
  • Lasers
  • LED
  • Fiber Optics
  • Digital Imagery
  • Lenses
  • Medical Imaging
    • X-rays
    • Fluoroscopy
    • MRI
  • Gamma Ray Therapy
  • Optical Disks

You will use this Project Proposal template to summarize your research findings.

Use a technology tool to enhance the presentation of your proposal to the team:

  • Present your proposal and supporting media on a VoiceThread (created by your teacher, who can give you an account and access).
  • Present your proposal and supporting media on a Wiki page (created by your teacher, who can give you an account and writer access)
  • Use Glogster to create an interactive multimedia poster or "Glog."
  • Use PowerPoint to create a multimedia presentation.
  • Use Animoto , Windows MovieMaker, or a Flip Cam to create a video.
  • Another technology tool approved by your teacher.




These scoring tools may be used or adapted by your teacher to evaluate your research process and your final product and presentation:

Research Process Assessments:
  • Daily (Formative) Assessments

  • Research Process (Summative) Assessments:
    Student/Self | Teacher
Group Collaboration/Soft Skills Assessments:
Final Product Assessments: 




Essential Question:

Which applications of biotechnology should be
pursued for investment and development?

Jumpstart your thinking by considering these questions and generating some research questions of your own:

  • What technology or current practice would this biotechnology application innovate or replace?
  • What are the societal, environmental, economical, and ethical ramifications of this application?
  • Should your company invest in development of this bioapplication?
    Why or why not?
  • What other questions do have about this biotechnology application?




Gather and Sort

Use a variety of sources from the Student Resources page to gather information about your topic.

Use the Project Proposal to record your research findings.

Consider using one of these digital tools to organize your proposal documents and any relevant media files for your presentation: 


Evernote allows you to capture your ideas, graphs, photos, voice memos, web pages, and just about anything else that you want to include in your research project. The best part: Evernote is always within arm's reach. There are versions of Evernote for Windows, Mac, the Web, iPhone, Windows Mobile, and other mobile devices. Each of these versions of Evernote is always synchronized, so any information added in one place is instantly available everywhere else.
live binders
Live Binders is an online 3-ring binder.  It allows you to combine web content with PDF and Word documents in an online binder. The binder can be organized into tabs and subtabs and be embedded on blogs and other websites, or downloaded to a computer desktop. You may want to create a Live Binder to keep yourself organized as you complete your research project.  When the project is finished, you can turn in the final project as a Live Binder that includes all web research, notes, and the final written work.  Check out the video tutorials to learn how to set up and use your Live Binder. Once you have set up your Live Binder, you may want to view this Live Binder on creating a truly great Live Binder.
zoho notebook
Zoho Notebook - Notebook Zoho makes it possible to create a notebook which can be filled with various different types of content. Multiple notebooks can be created and content can be added to them. It’s possible to put content anywhere on the notebook so that it is organized in a logical format. Audio can be recorded and embedded, photos can be uploaded, and video can be uploaded from your webcam. It’s also possible to attach files to your notebook.

Be sure to avoid plagiarism and follow guidelines for ethical and responsible use of information, and remember to cite your sources.


test tubes


Analyze your research notes and evaluate the effectiveness of your research for the task: 
  • Have you gathered enough details about your biotech application to complete your Project Proposal?
  • Have you considered all the research and development criteria?
    • Societal need/benefits
    • Technical considerations
    • Resource availability and environmental impact
    • Financial considerations and economic impact
    • Ethical or moral implications
  • Have you gathered relevant media to enhance your Project Proposal? (pictures, video clips, sound/music files, etc.)

Synthesize your research findings by completing your Project Proposal and creating a presentation to summarize and enhance your proposal.

Evaluate your finished product:

  • Is your research reflected in your final proposal and presentation?
  • Which facts are the most compelling and will help you and your classmates to answer the Essential Question?
  • Is there enough information to help the Board of Directors to make an informed decision about which biotech application to invest in and develop?


fiber optics

















Present your research on a materials, thermal, or optical application of biotechnology to the other members of the research team.

As team members present information about other biotech applications, take notes to help you compare each application according to the research and development criteria:

  • Societal need/benefits
  • Technical considerations
  • Resource availability and environmental impact
  • Cost
  • Ethical or moral implications

After all team members have presented their proposals, consider the pros and cons of these biotech applications according to the criteria. Make a decision about which biotech application has the best potential for investment and development.

Now, write a recommendation to the Charm City R&D Board of Directors to answer the Essential Question. Justify your recommendation using details from your own research and your analysis of the biotech applications presented by the research team. You must present a well-researched argument

Which materials, thermal, and optical applications of biotechnology should be pursued for investment and development? Why?

Use these tools to help you organize your ideas and compose a convincing written argument:

Present your written recommendation to the Charm City R&D Board of Directors, who will select the most promising applications for company investment.

  • Team-members' recommendations may also be presented through class discussion or on a Voice Thread created by your teacher.

Academic and Career Connections:

What opportunities are available in the field of biotechnology?

Visit the Defined STEM database to learn how these applications of biotechnology are being used in the world of work. Watch the video and answer the questions.

Biotechnology Programs at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC):

Mtech Biotechnology Research and Education Program (University of Maryland)

Maryland Biotechnology Schools, Degrees, Programs, and Certifications

Internships in Biotechnology: