*If you are already familiar with how CRISPR works to make GMOs and just want the teaching resources, hop down below the Youtube video*
Some people are terrified of the phrase "Genetically modified organism," yet they are literally everywhere. Roughly 75% of the foods in grocery stores have been genetically modified in some way. While creating a GMO used to be a long time consuming process, the development of CRISPR technology has made the process much faster and cheaper. As CRISPR technology becomes more refined, GMOs are going to become more common, not less, and we need to teach students about them.
How CRISPR Works
I recently was able to attend a seminar talk at Arizona State University by Jennifer Doudna, who helped develop CRISPR technology. If you aren't familiar with how CRISPR works, here's the gist:
Alright, ready for some teaching resources?!
1. The website Unlocking Life's Code has a good overview of CRISPR and links to additional resources. You can check it out HERE.
2. This interactive from PBS shows students how GMOs can be made (this is not via CRISPR). I like that it is simple and easy to use. You can view the interactive HERE. HHMI has an interactive site showing how CRISPR works you can view HERE.
3. This New York Times article has a student reading and questions, along with a ton of helpful links to get you started with GMOs. You can find it here.
4. Want to try some GMO speed dating with your students? In this activity, students are given an organism card (they are either a donor or a recipient) and go on "speed dates" with other organisms and determine if they have any genes that would be beneficial in sharing. You can find the lesson HERE. Note: Having done this activity with students, I would recommend it for honors/AP students.
5. If you haven't seen the University of Buffalo's case studies, you need to check them out. They have a TON of great resources for free (you can pay an annual fee for the answer keys, but usually aren't necessary). They have a bunch of case studies relating to GMOs you can view HERE. I have done the golden rice debate with my students and it always works well.
6. A fun activity you can do is to bring in a bunch of foods from home and have students scan the barcodes with the "Now Find Organic and Non-GMO" app (available for free in the app store). I've found that not every food I scanned is in the app, so be sure to try it at home first.
7. I had my students read this article from Nature and we held a Socratic seminar. The article examines if we should be able to edit our children's genes. It was interesting to hear my student's viewpoints on the topic (the majority were firmly against any sort of gametic gene editing).
8. The University of Washington has a lesson on GM salmon that includes 4 different stakeholders for them to read about. You can check out the lesson HERE.
9. Since I teach a PBL style course, I came up with a Shark Tank project where students had to design a GMO and pitch it to a bunch of sharks (the panel was made of teachers and college professors). This lesson in my TpT store has an outline of the worksheets and activities I used (note: it is not a print and go daily unit, but a guide for the project).
10. If you have time to show a documentary, Food Evolution narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson is a great option that explores GM foods. While every documentary has a little bias, this is much less bias than Food Inc. and a better option. You can view the trailer below:
11. BioRad has a free cut and paste paper activity where students simulate the CRISPR-Cas9 process. It can be found HERE.
As I find more resources I will add them to the list. If you have any additional favorites, leave them in the comments!