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Engineering Biofuels

KQED, Teachers' Domain

In this video, students explore the work of Jay Keasling, a synthetic biologist experimenting with ways to produce a cleaner-burning fuel from biological matter, using genetically modified microorganisms.

Video length is 3:30 min.

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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • The webpage associated with this video includes a background essay and discussion questions.
  • Resource will require extensive teacher preparation (and knowledge) to be properly introduced to students.

About the Science

  • Keasling's approach involves engineering microbes to eat simple sugars found in plant matter and convert them to biofuels that are substitutes for ethanol. Video also explains some of the difficulties of using these techniques and of harvesting plant material feedstocks without having an impact on land use and climate change.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students may find the ideas in this video difficult to understand without some background in microbiology.
  • The background essay largely repeats what is in the video itself.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The online version is not of sufficient resolution for projection in a classroom. Students might have to watch it on computer screens.

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