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Welcome to the Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Cell Wall Recipe: A Lesson on Biofuels

Lesson Description:
Students will investigate how changes in the dna sequence that codes for cell wall formation can have a favorable outcome in producing plants that have higher levels of cellulose than the parent plant. The cellulose yield is most important in the production of ethanol: the greater the amount of cellulose within the cell wall, the greater the amount of ethanol that can be produced. To engage students, the first part of this lesson has students participating in a discovery activity where they will extract dna from wheat germ.

Following this, students will be given 3 strips of paper at random with different symbols on them; these strips are the DNAstrands. While each strip has four symbols, only three symbols represent a gene (codon to be specific) and students will read the strips from left to right. by having four symbols per strip, students will have a variety of possible combinations as they lay out their strips to be decoded. students will look at the key provided and build their cell walls based on the genetic code they were given.

Once students have built their cell walls, they will evaluate codes that would be most favorable in producing cell walls with a high percentage of cellulose and low percentages of lignin and hemicellulose. This module can be used as part of a whole unit or an activity in understanding cell wall structure and function, dna and genetics, evolution, technology, or science and society.
Lesson Type:
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Energy
  • Other

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Energy Challenge

Time Needed:
Several class periods
Materials Needed:
  • Handouts included
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Poster board or butcher paper

School or Group:
U.S. Department of Energy
Contact Email:
Located in: Science

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