Overview of the unit

This unit was created by Noah Ledbetter, Mary Wissinger, and Eduardo Rodriguez. It is intended for freshmen students studying biology and algebra one. The project's aim is to facilitate a thorough exploration of genetics, population and stability, while also providing students with firm foundation for when they eventually take statistics. Students will write a report to incoming freshmen explaining the mathematic and scientific explanations they have learned in this unit. The final artifact will include descriptive information on survey design, data analysis using a chi^2 test, Punnett Squares, comparison of traits of different populations, Mendelian Genetics, and Hardy Weinberg Equilibrium and population growth. Since the students are preparing a report written in LaTeX this will also expose students to the basics of syntax as well as a chance to develop writing skills.

What is PBI

Project Based Instruction (PBI) is different from a traditional approach to teaching. According to chapter nineteen from the Cambridge Handbook of Learning Sciences by Joseph S. Krajcik and Phyllis C. Blumenfield, for a a learning experience to be considered PBI it must contain the following five elements of PBI;

1. Driving Question - The unit starts with a driving question or a problem that students want to solve.
2. Inquiry - Students participate in meaningful and authentic exploration.
3. Collaboration - Students work together with each other, teachers, and community members.
4. Technology - During the unit, students use technology to scaffold them.
5. Artifact - The students work to produce some final artifact that can be formally assessed.
(Krajcik and Blumfeld, 2006)

In Unzipping Your Genes, students will start with the question from an incoming freshmen. What does this freshmen need to know so that he can succeed in his freshmen year? Students participate in inquiry in a few places, but it is especially obvious when the students design and implement a survey. The students will collaborate in groups of two for this survey as well as when they create their final artifact using technology like computers and LaTeX.


Through PBI, students are provided with the opportunity to be actively involved in their learning. Centered around a driving question, students design and implement inquiries allowing them to be involved in science instead of just hearing and memorizing it. First hand experiences allow students into a closer insight in to their material allowing the material to be more meaningful.

Compared to a solely lectured class, students get to engage in their own investigation, answering their own questions. They are driven by their own curiosity. With PBI, students take advantage of technology to expand the possibilities of what they can learn and they can perform.

Possible Accommodations 
English Language Learners (ELLs) and students who have trouble reading are a common component of a classroom. Instructors in class rooms such as these should be sure to publish relevant slides before the lesson takes place, so that students can read ahead and prepare themselves for the lesson. A vocabulary handout of important science terms will be provided, helping ELL students, and those without ELL requirements or disabilities, become more acquainted with the terminology discussed in class.(Dong, 2004)

  1. Krajcik, Joseph S. and Blumenfeld, Phyllis C. "Project-Based Learning." The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences. Keith R. Sawyer. Cambridge University Press, (2006)
  2. Dong, Y. R. (2004). Getting at the content. Educational Leadership, 62(4), 14–19.