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DNA Extraction Using Engineering Design: A STEM Integration Unit (Curriculum Exchange)

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Curriculum Exchange

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.556.1 - 26.556.2



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Paper Authors


Corey A Mathis Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Corey Mathis is a Ph.D student in Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her B.S. in biology and her M.E.D. in secondary education from Northern Arizona University and is a former high school science and technology teacher. Her research interest includes improving students learning of science and engineering through integrated STEM curricula.

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Tamara J Moore Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Tamara J. Moore, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education and Director of STEM Integration in the INSPIRE Institute at Purdue University. Dr. Moore’s research is centered on the integration of STEM concepts in K-12 and postsecondary classrooms in order to help students make connections among the STEM disciplines and achieve deep understanding. Her work focuses on defining STEM integration and investigating its power for student learning.

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Siddika Selcen Guzey Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Guzey is an assistant professor of science education at Purdue University. Her research and teaching focus on integrated STEM Education.

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DNA Extraction Using Engineering Design: A STEM Integrated Unit (Curriculum Exchange)The Engineering to Transform the Education of Analysis, Measurement, & Science(EngrTEAMS) project is an engineering, design-based approach to teacher professionaldevelopment that has 50 teachers per year designing curricular units for science topic areasrelated to the Next Generation Science Standards. The project includes summer professionaldevelopment and curriculum writing workshops, paired with coaching, to allow teams ofteachers to design engineering curricular units focused on science concepts, meaningful dataanalysis, and measurement. Each unit goes through an extensive design research cycle to ensureits quality and is published in an online format.This seven day unit is designed for 7th – 9th grade students. The instructional material combinesthe learning from cellular biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, and engineering design througha series of STEM integrated activities that allow students to use various aspects of engineering tosolve a problem.The initial lesson introduces students to the engineering process and the engineering designchallenge. The challenge involves making improvements to the biotechnological process forextracting DNA. Students then use a 3-dementional cellular model to help conceptualize,understand, and define the problem. This lesson reveals preconceptions and misconceptionsabout engineering, biotechnology, and cellular structure and functions. Next, students investigatethe client’s process for extracting DNA from cells and begin to identify possible areas forimprovement. Following this lesson, students engage in several hands-on activities that examinecellular processes and factors that influence those processes with special attention given to ratesof enzymatic reactions and surface to volume relationships. These activities are designed to helpstudents understand the complexities of how biological systems function and identify ways inwhich they can be manipulated. In the final lesson of the unit, students apply what they havelearned through multiple iterations of the engineering design process to optimize the DNAextraction process.

Mathis, C. A., & Moore, T. J., & Guzey, S. S. (2015, June), DNA Extraction Using Engineering Design: A STEM Integration Unit (Curriculum Exchange) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23894

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