Skip navigation




The word “biotechnology” usually conjures images of modern techniques and topics of controversy such as cloning, stem cell research, and genetically modified organisms. However, the practice of manipulating organisms to create a product has long been used by human societies.

Our Biotechnology Series is designed for high school and community college educators in the fields of Biology, Environmental Science, Social Studies, and Agriculture.  A special effort has been made to construct activities that support instruction in AP Biology, AP Environmental Science, and AP Human Geography.  This module was created as a supplement to the Focus on Risk curriculum.




Get the Materials

Educators can download the complete Exploring Environmental Issues: Biotechnology module at no cost.

Download the complete Biotechnology module now (pdf).

Download the Biotechnology module by activity

PLT’s Biotechnology supplement is comprised of four hands-on activities, and an introductory piece.  You may download each of the activities as separate files using the links below. 

  • Introduction to Biotechnology (pdf)
    The word “biotechnology” usually conjures imag­es of modern techniques and topics of controversy, however, the prac­tice of manipulating organisms to create a product has long been used in human societies. This introductory piece for educators describes the historical and current uses of biotechnology.
  • Activity 1: Biotechnology and You (pdf)
    In this activity, students will explore artificial selection, as well as learn how advances in science are allowing increasingly specific methods of genetic manipulation in organisms ( genetic engineering ). Students will explore the risks and benefits of genetic engineering and concerns that affect what we eat and wear.
  • Activity 2: Bioremediation (pdf)
    In this activity, students will learn how living organisms have been used traditionally to process materials or to produce certain products or results. Students will also explore how modern bioengineering techniques have been used to mimic natural processes for the cleanup of sewage, oil spills, and other environmental toxins.
  • Activity 3: Biotechnology and Human Health (pdf)
    In this activity, students simulate the spread of disease, learn about different types of vaccines and the controversies surrounding them, and explore how genetically engineered plants can be used to produce a new class of edible vaccines.
  • Activity 4: Forest Biotechnology (pdf)
    In this activity, students will learn how traditional methods of artificial selection and modern methods of bioengineering have been used in an attempt to improve the quality of forests products worldwide. Students will investigate both the risks and benefits of genetically modifying trees.

Additional Resources

The resources below are powerpoint presentations to accompany the activities above.  Please visit our searchable database for additional online resources, such as Student Pages. 

Reprinting and Copyright Information

All PLT curriculum materials are protected under copyright laws. Contact the National PLT Office for permission to adapt or distribute Project Learning Tree curriculum materials.   Please remember to reproduce responsibly.

< Back