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Food Allergies Unit

What Exactly are Proteins, and How are the Proteins We Make Different from those We Eat?

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What Exactly are Proteins, and How are the Proteins We Make Different from those We Eat?

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 proteins to answer the following question: What exactly are proteins, and how are the proteins we make different from those we eat? Students figure out that much of the food we eat contains proteins. Even things we consider carbohydrates, like wheat and other grains, have proteins. Proteins are things that our body needs to maintain homeostasis, and we get them in our food: Even if we are allergic to some proteins, we can consume other proteins. When we eat proteins, our digestive system breaks them into many different amino acids, and when our body makes proteins, our cells are putting together many different amino acids using the information on our genes/DNA.

This is Lesson 3 of the Food Allergies Unit.

Click the Download PDF button above for the complete Lesson Plan.


Student Materials

Per Student

Per Small Group (2 to 4 students)

Teacher Materials

  • Several pieces of chart paper and chart markers or another space to record student ideas publicly
  • Lesson 3 Slides
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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