Discovery Engineering in Biology: Case Studies for Grades 6–12

by: Rebecca Hite, Gina Childers, Megan Ennes, and M. Gail Jones

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Show your students how amazing it can be to just “see what will happen” when they blend biology, engineering, and serendipity. Focusing on innovations sparked by accidental or unexpected observations, the case studies in this resource are a lively way to integrate engineering and experimentation into your biology classes. Middle and high school students will learn fundamental science processes while using their natural curiosity to explore ideas for new applications and products. They’ll also find out that small, plant-eating mammals called pikas helped scientists find new ways to survive extreme weather events and that algae can be used as airplane fuel.

The book’s 20 easy-to-use investigations help you do the following:
• Use real-world case studies to bring accidental inspirations to life. Each investigation starts with an actual scientific discovery that students explore through primary documents or historical accounts.
• Let students be the innovators. The investigations task your classes to investigate biological concepts, do research, examine data, create models, and use their own personal ideas to design new products or problem-solving applications.
• Apply the material in flexible, interesting ways. You can implement the investigations in part or as a whole, and you can use them to teach one or more science concepts while exposing students to the unpredictable nature of science. Students will be intrigued by investigations with titles such as “Vindicating Venom: Using Biological Mechanisms to Treat Diseases and Disorders” and “Revealing Repeats: The Accidental Discovery of DNA Fingerprinting.”

Discovery Engineering in Biology is not only ideal for the classroom. It’s also perfect for informal education at STEM camps, science centers, and more. You’ll help your students see that just as there is no one way to do science, there are many paths that lead to innovations in engineering. And who knows what might happen? Maybe your students will engineer the next amazing survival product inspired by pikas!

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Grade Levels

High School Middle School


Biology Citizen Science Engineering Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Life Science Phenomena STEM Teaching Strategies


Type NSTA Press BookPub Date 11/20/2019Pages 350ISBN 978-1-68140-614-5Stock # PB444X2

NSTA Press produces classroom-ready activities, hands-on approaches to inquiry, relevant professional development, the latest scientific education news and research, assessment and standards-based instruction.

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