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Food Allergies Storyline Unit

How Do Cells Know Which Amino Acids Go Together to Make Certain Proteins?

Sensemaking Checklist

What is Sensemaking?

Sensemaking is actively trying to figure out how the world works (science) or how to design solutions to problems (engineering). Students do science and engineering through the science and engineering practices. Engaging in these practices necessitates that students be part of a learning community to be able to share ideas, evaluate competing ideas, give and receive critique, and reach consensus. Whether this community of learners is made up of classmates or family members, students and adults build and refine science and engineering knowledge together.

Lesson Snapshot

High school students, as scientists, investigate how new proteins are created using pieces of the proteins they ate to answer the following driving question: How do cells know which amino acids go together to make certain proteins? Students will figure out how genes are composed of a sequence of DNA that is then transcribed to RNA, which determines the sequence of amino acids that fold to create a protein with a specific structure. They will look specifically at the gene that codes for the enzyme lactase to trace the production and use of lactase in the digestive tract to figure out if the structure of lactase is important for its function. 

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Materials

Food Allergy Storyline Unit

This lesson is one of seven lessons in the Food Allergy Storyline Unit. Storylines start with an anchoring phenomenon that raises questions or introduces a problem. Each step in a storyline unit is then driven by students’ questions that arise from the phenomenon.

In this case, the anchoring phenomenon is something familiar yet still mysterious to this generation of students - bans on certain foods in their cafeterias and classrooms. Students will probably be able to connect the bans to food allergies but might not be able to explain why a person has food allergies. Students to consider what they do and don't know about food allergies and what they want to find out. This gives them a reason for investigating the biological mechanism behind food allergies and intolerances. In doing so, they will make sense of Disciplinary Core Ideas related to genetics and genomics. The food allergy storyline allows students to develop science ideas related to LS1.A Structure and Function and LS3.A Inheritance of Traits.

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