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The Elephant Tusk Project

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Big Idea &

Essential Questions  

Lesson Overview   Eliciting and Engaging the Student Developing the Ideas Checking for Understanding  


Big Idea 1:  The Groundwork


Essential Questions:

  • What is Biotechnology?
  • What are the fields in which Biotech is used? 
  • What are the practical applications of Biotech?

In these lessons, students will get a general overview of what biotechnology is, the history and advances of biotechnology, and the various fields in which biotech is being used to help find solutions to global problems.




Lesson 1-1: Intro to Biotechnology




Lesson 1-2: Biotech Jigsaw


Lesson 1-3: Genetics and Society

  • What is one thing you learned from each of the Biotech Jigsaw presentations?


  • Based on your Web Quest, what are the 5 practical applications that Genetics and Biotechnology are having on Society.


  • How has your learning during these past lessons affected how you think of Biotechnology?



Big Idea 2: The History


Essential Questions:

  • How Do Scientists Use Biotechnology to Help Conserve Species?
  • What is our scenario? 
  • Who Are The Scientists?  
  • Why Elephants?
  • What is the Ivory Story? 
In these lessons, students will have an elicitation of how biotechnology is used to solve real world ecological problems (example in Montana). They will then get local by reading about Washington scientists Comstock & Wasser and become familiar with their elephant research. This will prime the opening of the "Who Dung It" project scenario in which they simulate reaching out to Dr. Comstock.  Follow-up lessons 2-3 and 2-4 fill in important background knowledge about the laws and ethics surrounding the ivory trade. Lesson 2-1: Using Biotechnology to Conserve Species

Lesson 2-2:  Using Biotech to Conserve Species: "WHO DUNG IT? Scenario"


Lesson 2-3: Elephant Laws & Ethics Web Quest


Lesson 2-4: Ethical Dilemmas: Stake Holder Case Studies

  • How do Dr.'s Comstock and Wasser use biotechnology to help conserve species?
  • Should we be working internationally to conserve a species?
  • How can Biotechnology be used to conserve a species?
  • What is your stake in the issue of ivory? What can you do? 

Big Idea 3: The Mission


Essential Questions: 

  • What techniques do we need to perform our mission? 
  • Can we use DNA Technology to track the ivory?
In these lessons, students will further their experience with the techniques of micro-pipetting, sample preparation and electro-phoresis. They will learn how the physical properties of DNA molecules allow their separation by agarose gel electrophoresis and apply this technique to an their confiscated-ivory scenario. Final analysis and discussion will help students to understand the relevance of these technique to scientific research and global issues.
Lesson 3-1: Mission Techniques! 

Lesson 3-2 Option 1: Analyzing the Ivory DNA (WET LAB)


Lesson 3-2 Option 2: Analyzing the Ivory DNA (PAPER LAB)


Lesson 3-3: Laboratory Data Analysis


Big Idea 4: The Assessment


Essential Questions:

  • Can we use what we've learned and apply to the conservation of another species? 


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