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Engineering Biofuels
http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/biot09.biotech.app.synthfuel/

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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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

A combination of strategies is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The most immediate strategy is conservation of oil, gas, and coal, which we rely on as fuels for most of our transportation, heating, cooling, agriculture, and electricity. Short-term strategies involve switching from carbon-intensive to renewable energy sources, which also requires building new infrastructure for alternative energy sources. Long-term strategies involve innovative research and a fundamental change in the way humans use energy.
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPe

Energy Literacy

Fossil and bio fuels are organic matter that contain energy captured from sunlight.
Other materials addressing:
4.3 Fossil and bio fuels contain energy captured from sunlight.
Different sources of energy and the different ways energy can be transformed, transported and stored each have different benefits and drawbacks.
Other materials addressing:
4.7 Different sources of energy have different benefits and drawbacks.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Different ways of obtaining, transforming, and distributing energy have different environmental consequences.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

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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