Outreach: Developing Educational Resources

Design a lesson plan for a high school biology elective


Careers in science outreach often involve the translation of information and the provision of educational resources. These resources can be provided to other educators or take the form of a presentation delivered by the individual who developed the content. The individual responsible for such content is often affiliated with a partnership between a local K-12 school and an academic institution, a nonprofit organization, or a society invested in education and outreach. Generally this simulation is applicable to any outreach position that involves communication with a lay audience, including public school systems or the general public.

The Process

The process for the support of educators through the provision and/or development of a resource may differ when comparing different outreach entities. In this simulation, you will be exploring most of Step 3 in the process presented below:

  1. A Program Director contacts local schools to find opportunities to provide educational resources and initiate partnerships.
  2. The Program Director, administrators and/or teachers identify common goals/objectives and assign roles.
  3. The Academic coordinator and partner teacher:
    1. Identify content and activities in concordance with step 2.
    2. Determine what type of resources are required for step 2.
    3. Determine who will use the resource and for how long.
    4. If the resource is a lesson:
      1. Determine the audience
      2. Write learning objectives and a lesson plan.
      3. Develop learning materials.
      4. Deliver the lesson.
      5. Evaluate how well the learning objectives were met.
      6. Revise the lesson as needed.

The Exercise

For this exercise you are are an Academic Coordinator for the Science Education Partnership at a university. One of your roles in this position is to help develop lessons that will improve the current biotechnology elective curriculum at a local high school. Design and implement a new high school biology lesson which must meet the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

The teachers are concerned with the preparation of students for college, but they also want the students to be aware of relevant topics in biotech. You all have agreed that two of the lessons will be on the human microbiome and genome editing. However, your partner teacher is uncomfortable with some of the material and would like your help developing the lessons.

The class contains high school juniors and seniors. All of the students have taken biology and chemistry, both of which are prerequisites for the elective. Some of the students have also taken AP Biology and Physics. Generally your audience may be more motivated to learn than what you might encounter in other settings. However, each student comes with a different level of preparedness and you should still plan to include and/or be ready to adapt or scaffold the material so it is appropriate for your audience.

Note: Outside of this simulation, a professional in science outreach would be writing and discussing these objectives with their partner teacher. The task of aligning your learning objectives with NGSS is intended to model part of this interaction. High school elective courses usually do not need to follow NGSS.

Task 1:A learning objective is a learning outcome for a given lesson. Learning outcomes typically contain some or all of the following information: a statement about what the students will be able to do, how the student will demonstrate their learning and the standard by which performance will be evaluated. Once you have written your objectives, identify which NGSS are met by those objectives. Please see the following resource from “The Sourcebook for Teaching Science” for more information about how to write learning outcomes: “Establishing Science Learning Objectives“. Possible learning outcomes for each topic might be:

  • Students will be able to describe and model the process of genome editing.
  • Students will be able to articulate via presentation to their peers how the study of the human microbiome impacts society.
Task 2:Design a 20-30 minute lesson plan and generate any slides, handouts, or other materials required for your lesson. Your lesson plan should be developed so that the students will have the opportunity to achieve at least one of your learning outcomes. If you choose to lecture the students, you will need to make the slides associated with that part of the lesson. The first slide should show one of your four learning outcomes and each additional slide should aid in the achievement of that outcome. Indicate how much time you wish to spend in the comments portion of each slide.Here are a few questions to consider: Would you like to involve scientists from the field through video or in person? Will the teacher facilitate part of the lesson? If so, when and how long do these individuals have for their part of the lesson?A sample lesson plan for part of a class on cellular biology is below and represents the format of the deliverable for this task. Your lesson plan should include the content, deliverer, length of time and resources required by section.Section  Content  Length  Resources

Intro Poll the class with the three questions to see what they think are some of the major differences between prokaryotes and eukaryotes.Deliverer: Teacher 6 min
  1. PowerPoint
  2. Folders or clickers for polling the class
Think, Pair, and Share (TPS) Strip Sequence: Have students organize strips of paper that contain prokaryote and eukaryote characteristics. First, let students think about the categorization on their own and then have students pair up. Explore the differences by having students share. Facilitate a group discussion to ensure all students have the appropriate information before moving on to the next part of the lesson.Deliverer: Academic Coordinator Think: 1 min

Pair: 3 min

Share: 10 min

  • a projector
  • strips of paper
  • Folders to call on students
  • black, white, or smart board for recording during the share

You may have noticed that the sample lesson plan does not contain a lecture. Furthermore, several terms are bolded (Clickers, TPS and Strip sequence) and are commonly used in teaching methodology that is meant to engage students. The NGSS standards are enhancing scientific teaching nationally and, generally, these standards are encouraging K-12 educators to move towards active learning. Therefore, individuals in science outreach that operate in the K-12 space are expected to embrace and facilitate lessons that involve the active participation of students during class.

To learn more about active learning, see the resources below:

Ch2: Active Learning from “Scientific Teaching” by Jo Handelsman, Sarah Miller and Christine Pfund and 40 Active Learning Strategies for Active Students from Monster.com.

Task 3:Assessment is an important part of teaching and learning, and it may involve several different strategies. These strategies or modes include exams, homework and in-class activities. Assessments can be graded. However, the most useful assessments are often not graded and provide the educator with data on the progression of student learning. These data help the educator to improve instruction by addressing gaps in learning or student misconceptions as they occur throughout the course. We encourage you to also include assessment as a part of your lesson plan. Information about and forms of assessment can be found in Ch3: Assessment from “Scientific Teaching” by Jo Handelsman, Sarah Miller and Christine Pfund, and “Teaching Strategies to Assess Students’ Ideas in UG Science Classrooms” from the Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory (SEPAL) at San Francisco State University.

The Deliverable

Create the lesson plan as an excel sheet or in a word processor containing the following:

  • Title of the lesson plan
  • Short 2-3 sentence description of the lesson
  • List of learning objectives from Task 1
  • A table outlining the lesson as in Task 2
  • Method of assessment if doing Task 3

Use PowerPoint, drawing software, and/or any other audiovisual programs to create the materials to be used for the lesson. Remember that the materials you, the Academic Coordinator, produce could be provided to the teacher to use at a later date.



For this task:

  • Scientific knowledge
  • The ability to simplify and/or translate complex concepts
  • Communication skills, verbal and written
  • Computer skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Creativity

Needed in this career:

  • The ability to simplify and/or translate complex concepts
  • Analytical and computer skills
  • Knowledge of science, education and outreach
  • Communication skills, verbal and written
  • Time and program management
  • Interpersonal skills: teamwork/collaboration
  • Attention to detail
  • Creativity

Additional Tasks

A professional in the field of regulatory affairs may also perform these tasks:

  • Event planning
  • Evaluate project or program progress and/or outcomes
  • Develop program evaluation methods
  • Train fellow educators
  • Search and apply for relevant funding sources
  • Marketing
  • Establish and manage relationships with volunteers and vendors
  • Budget management
  • Write and speak to diverse audiences

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Simulation authors: Corin White, PhD

Simulation vetted by professionals in the Bay Area