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Macromolecule Mania

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  • Transformation 2013 PBL 5E

    Planning Form Guide

    PBL Title: Macromolecule Mania Teacher(s): Shane McKay School: East Central High School Subject: Biology Abstract: In this unit, students will learn the four types of biomolecules. Furthermore, students will learn about how each organism converts and utilizes energy.



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  • Begin with the End in Mind

    The theme or big ideas for this PBL:

    Students will develop a basic understanding of macromolecules and the important role these molecules play in our lives. Students will also learn how plants and animals use and convert energy.

    TEKS/SEs that students will learn in the PBL:

    (9) Science concepts. The student knows metabolic processes and energy transfers that occur in living organisms. The student is expected to:

    (A) compare the structures and functions of different types of biomolecules such as carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids;

    (B) compare the energy flow in photosynthesis to the energy flow in cellular respiration.

    Key performance indicators students will develop in this PBL:

    Develop vocabulary (carbohydrate, lipid, nucleic acid, nucleotide, protein, amino acid, deoxyribonucleic acid, ribonucleic acid, monosaccharide, polysaccharide, photosynthesis, cellular respiration), understand how energy is converted in plants and animals in everyday life

    21st century skills that students will practice in this PBL: www.21stcenturyskills.org

    Creativity, innovation, flexibility, adaptability, initiative, self-direction

    STEM career connections and real world applications of content learned in this PBL:

    Careers: Food science, computer programmer, gamer, inventor, and chef Connections: People consume carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins on a daily basis in their diets for energy and enzymatic reactions. Furthermore, each person is comprised of the four major macromolecules (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids).

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  • The Problem Students may choose one of these two problems to solve.

    1. You and a partner have been contracted by a large gaming company to create an educational game that teaches students (ages 14 to adult) about the four major macromolecules in our bodies (carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and proteins), how we consume each in our diets, what each does for our body, and how the macromolecules relate to enzymatic reactions that occur within the body. The game can be in any nature you would like (board game, computer game, card game, etc.), but it must be educational in nature and teach the basic components of each of the four biomacromolecules. You have one week to complete the challenge.

    2. You and a partner are asked to host a cooking show on the Food Network. You

    both must take on the role of scientists who have become chefs and love to teach science concepts as you teach food preparation. You must create a show (10 15 minutes) using video technology by preparing a meal while teaching the four major biomacromolecules located in the bodies of animals (carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and proteins). While preparing the food you must explain how we consume these macromolecules, what kinds of foods each is located in, and how they are utilized in our bodies. You have one week to complete the challenge.

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  • Map the PBL Performance Indicators

    Already Learned


    before the project


    during the project

    1. Vocabulary: carbohydrate, lipid, nucleic acid, nucleotide, protein, amino acid, carbon, deoxyribonucleic acid, ribonucleic acid, monosaccharide, polysaccharide, photosynthesis, cellular respiration

    X X X

    2. Develop an understanding how food consumption relates to the process of cellular respiration and photosynthesis

    X X

    3. Establish a thorough understanding of how each macromolecule (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids) is used for structural purposes in our bodies

    X X

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  • Team-Building Activity It is important that teachers provide team-building activities for students to help build the 21st Century Skills that are necessary for success in the workforce. Team-building helps establish and develop a greater sense of cooperation and trust among team members, helps students adapt to new group requirements so that they can get along well in a new group, serves to bring out the strengths of the individuals, helps identify roles when working together, and leads to effective collaboration and communication among team members so that they function as an efficient, productive group. Our students are often not taught how to work in groups, yet we assume that they automatically know how. Use team-building activities with your students so that you can see the benefits which include improvement in planning skills, problem solving skills, decision making skills, time management skills, personal confidence, and motivation and morale.

    Helium Stick

    Materials: long thin metal or wooden rod Deceptively simple but powerful exercise for learning how to work together and

    communicate in small to medium sized groups. Line up in two rows which face each other. Introduce the Helium Stick - a long, thin, light rod. Ask participants to point their index fingers and hold their arms out. Lay the Helium Stick down on their fingers. Get the group to adjust their finger

    heights until the Helium Stick is horizontal and everyone's index fingers are touching the stick.

    Explain that the challenge is to lower the Helium Stick to the ground. The catch: Each person's fingers must be in contact with the Helium Stick at all

    times. Pinching or grabbing the pole in not allowed - it must rest on top of fingers. Reiterate to the group that if anyone's finger is caught not touching the Helium Stick,

    the task will be restarted. Let the task begin.... Warning: Particularly in the early stages, the Helium Stick has a habit of mysteriously

    'floating' up rather than coming down, causing much laughter. A bit of clever humoring can help - e.g., act surprised and ask what are they doing raising the Helium Stick instead of lowering it! For added drama, jump up and pull it down!

    Participants may be confused initially about the paradoxical behavior of the Helium Stick.

    Some groups or individuals (most often larger size groups) after 5 to 10 minutes of trying may be inclined to give up, believing it not to be possible or that it is too hard.

    The facilitator can offer direct suggestions or suggest the group stops the task, discusses their strategy, and then has another go.

    Less often, a group may appear to be succeeding too fast. In response, be particularly vigilant about fingers not touching the pole. Also make sure participants lower the pole all the way onto the ground. You can add further difficulty by adding a large washer to each end of the stick and explain that the washers should not fall off during the

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  • exercise, otherwise it's a restart. Eventually the group needs to calm down, concentrate, and very slowly, patiently

    lower the Helium Stick - easier said than done. How does it work? The stick does not contain helium. The secret (keep it to yourself) is that the collective

    upwards pressure created by everyone's fingers tends to be greater than the weight of the stick. As a result, the more a group tries, the more the stick tends to 'float' upwards.

    Processing Ideas What was the initial reaction of the group? How well did the group cope with this challenge? What skills did it take to be successful as a group? What creative solutions were suggested and how were they received? What would an outside observer have seen as the strengths and weaknesses of the

    group? What did each group member learn about him/her self as an individual? What other situations (e.g., at school, home or work) are like the Helium Stick? References Booth Sweeney, L. & D. Meadows (1996). The systems thinking playbook: Exercises

    to stretch and build learning and systems thinking capabilities. The Turning Point Foundation.

    Gass, M. A. (1999). Lowering the bar. Ziplines: The Voice for Adventure Education, Summer, 39, 25-27.

    Gass, M. A. (2001). Lowering the bar. In S. Priest & K. Rohnke (2001) 101 of the best corporate team-building activities. eXperientia.

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    5E Lesson Plan Engage Activity

    TEKS/TAKS objectives: TAKS Objective: 1, 2 ; TEKS: 112.43(c) 9A,B

    PBL Title: Macromolecule Mania

    Divide the class into pairs, and give each pair Lugols solution, a dropper, test tubes, crackers, section of potatoes, white bread, butter, oatmeal, sugar, cooked pasta, and any other substance you wish (make sure some of the items do not contain starch). Explain that Lugols solution is an indicator of starch if the solution turns dark blue or black, then starch is present. Then, have the pairs test the foods for the presence of starch. For example, students will crush up the crackers and place them into a test tube and place 5 drops of iodine solution on top of the crackers and observe whether it darkens. Students should list all the items and recor

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