University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

NSTA 2015 (Wolfe, Knapik & Wilson)

Food for Thought: Modeling the Role of Glucose.

Come experience a hands-on unit that incorporates NGSS to explore metabolism, homeostasis, and health! Access to free NIH SEPA funded curriculum materials.


“Food For Thought” is a biology unit that takes research from University of Illinois neuroscientist Paul Gold to explore energy metabolism, homeostasis, and health. The unit addresses several aspects of the Next Generation Science Standards, particularly the use of models as both a crosscutting concept and scientific practice. Throughout the unit, students develop their understanding of the structure and function of organisms (Disciplinary Core Idea: LS1.A), specifically feedback mechanisms and the specialization of cells. Students also have an opportunity to share life experiences related to adrenaline rushes, memory loss, and diabetes.

Using a series of lessons that encourage self-directed learning and assessment, students are challenged to build and re-evaluate models by using multiple sources of evidence, including student-collected data, scientific articles, and anatomical figures. In doing so, students use models in a dynamic process just as scientists do: to predict, test, explain, and communicate. The use of models is excellent for helping teachers formatively assess their students’ current understanding and engage students in a variety of scientific practices. Teachers will have free access to all Project NEURON curriculum materials, activities, and games via the Project NEURON website.


Tommy Wolfe*, Kevin Knapik*, Meghan Wilson* & Barbara Hug. (2015). Workshop at the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) National Conference on Science Education, Chicago, IL.

*Conference presenters

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