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Engineering Biofuels

KQED, Teachers' Domain

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

Video length is 3:30 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 5 Disciplinary Core Ideas

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 web page associated with this video includes a background essay and discussion questions.
  • Resource will require 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.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 5

HS-ESS3.A1:Resource availability has guided the development of human society.

HS-ESS3.A2:All forms of energy production and other resource extraction have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical costs and risks as well as benefits. New technologies and social regulations can change the balance of these factors.

HS-ETS1.A2:Humanity faces major global challenges today, such as the need for supplies of clean water and food or for energy sources that minimize pollution, which can be addressed through engineering. These global challenges also may have manifestations in local communities

HS-LS1.A1:Systems of specialized cells within organisms help them perform the essential functions of life.

HS-LS1.C3:As matter and energy flow through different organizational levels of living systems, chemical elements are recombined in different ways to form different products.

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