Lesson Plan: Sustainable Forestry: Exploring Biotech Trees for Forest Health and Bioenergy

Heather Earp created an engaging curriculum unit for middle or high school students that explores forest biotechnology. She developed six lessons that focus on science, technology, engineering and math but will also integrate pressing social issues.

Lesson 1: Evaluating Media Bias in GM Forestry

Students will create biased images from environmental facts related to different aspects of genetic engineering and GM forestry, and will try to decipher each other’s images to get to the facts contained within them.

Lesson 2: Investigating Economic Impact of Genetic Modification in the Timber Industry [A Calculations-Based Lesson]

Students will get practice with calculations in order to determine the economic ‘value’ of implementing GM technology, and how that can potentially ripple through the industry.

Lesson 3: Improved or Engineered? A Look at the Processes involved with High Tech and Low Tech Genetic Modifications

In this lesson, students will explore the processes of genetic engineering [high tech] vs. genetic improvement [low tech], and learn to distinguish between the processes.

Lesson 4: GM 360°: Case Studies on Genetically Modified Trees

This activity allows a unique opportunity for students to conduct case studies that provide subjective arguments on both sides of an issue and gain feedback on creating a balanced argument. Students will present case studies objectively and subjectively, providing arguments both for the modification and against the modification of their chosen species.

Lesson 5: Social Perceptions of Biofuels

This activity was created in conjunction with a joint study by North Carolina State University and the Institute of Forest Biotechnology. This study, by Steven Pires, Sudipta Dasmohapatra, Adam Costanza, and Susan McCord, seeks to understand the social perceptions of biofuels and the use of genetically modified (GM) products to create the fuels.

Lesson 6: The Case of Chestnut Grove: A Town Council Simulation

Students will take on the roles of mayor, town council members, specialists, representatives from special interest groups, and concerned citizens to discuss an issue. They will research and prepare their argument, and work together to find a solution.

Download a zip file of all six lessons.