The Biotech Game of Life (Part II)

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Students will create a biotechnology company and market a product in order to experience the trials and tribulations associated with developing a biotechnology related idea into a successful commercial product.

Big Idea

The pace of innovation, from developing an idea to creating a new biotechnology product, is rarely in line with the medical needs of a changing society.


5 minutes

Developing an idea into a product that a biotechnology company can sell usually takes at least 20 years, if not longer. Only a fraction of companies are able to survive long enough to see their product come to market. In playing the Biotech Game of Life students will experience the trials and tribulations associated with developing a biotechnology related idea into a successful commercial product. This lesson is a great companion to a previous lesson, The Biotech Game of Life Part I however it is also wonderful as a stand alone lesson!


1. Document one scientist’s journey through the product discovery, research and development, clinical trials, patent and marketing processes unique to the biotechnology industry.

2. Reach the finish line first and successfully bring a biotechnology product to market.


BT 2.3 - Identify past and current discoveries and developments in fields such as, agriculture, diagnostics, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and research and development.


Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science, on Society and the Natural World

Every human-made product (i.e. Humilin - genetically engineered human insulin) is designed by applying some knowledge of the natural world and is built using materials derived from the natural world.

Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology

Science and engineering complement each other in the cycle known as research and development (R&D).


10 minutes

Engage (Activate Student Thinking)

Read the following to the students as a way to frame their "role" in this lesson:

“You’re a successful scientist and you have an idea for a potential biotechnology product that you want to bring to market. In playing this game you will experience the trials and tribulations associated with developing your biotechnology related idea into a successful commercial product. You will do this by generating and patenting an idea. Your job will be to create a biotechnology company then finance clinical trials in order to ensure the safety and efficacy of your product. After undergoing rigorous clinical testing, you’ll be able to bring your product to market and hopefully make a profit. Record details from your journey below. GOOD LUCK!!”

Before proceeding have students complete a materials check in which they verify they have all of the many moving parts needed in this lesson (i.e. gameboard, game instructions, die, game pieces, lesson guide, etc.). This is a great investment in time that will return great dividends!


15 minutes

Explore (Guided/Student-Centered Activity)

1. Have students read the instructions silently to themselves.

2. Create groups of 3-4 students using the collaborative grouping method of your choice. Students should begin by determining their potential idea and starting cash amount and recording this on the notetaker provided.

3. Instruct students to preview the gameboard and locate the spaces marked STOP! These spaces indicate the six major hurdles biotechnologists and biotechnology companies must leap over in order to bring a novel product to market. Please record the six major phases or stages.


45 minutes

Explain (Formulate Ideas)

1. Greatest Triumphs. As students move through the game, they should record some of the most exciting accomplishments and triumphs on one of the notetakers provided. (i.e. Earned my first million!)

2. Greatest Trials.  In reality, developing an idea into a product that a biotechnology company can sell usually takes at least 20 years, if not longer. Students record some of the greatest disappointments, trials and setbacks they experienced on one of the notetakers provided.


30 minutes

Elaborate (Apply and Extend Understanding)

Guide students through a close read of an excerpt of your choice from the text, “From Idea to Market: The Drug Approval Process”. This article will provide information on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) timeline of drug development, the phases of drug development and recent changes in the drug approval process. A glossary of terms is provided to support student learning. The terms can be explored using vocabulary-building strategies used in a previous lesson entitled, “Word Wall: A to Z”. Students will use this information as well as other knowledge gained during both Part I and Part II to deepen their understanding of the drug development process in preparation for the final segment of the lesson.


60 minutes

Evaluate (Monitor Understanding)

1. Begin this final segment by viewing all or a portion of the video, “Making Medicines Using Combi Chem” (Time: 5:26min) located on Vimeo. Using the Student iVideo Critique exit slip have students rate the video for overall effectiveness in reaching a general teen audience in addition to the accuracy of the content presented by shading in the desired number of stars. Students should also provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of this video. Discuss what students should do differently if they were going to create a video. You may also review other videos used in Part I and Part II of this lesson and rate those as well.

2. Using InfoActive, Powtoon, Moovly, OR Animoto students will create an infographic, animated cartoon or video for a teen audience describing the complete drug development process from the initial IND Application to the NDA New Drug Application and everything in between! Encourage students to use music and other forms of multimedia to bring clarity to a complex topic! This may take a few additional days or it can be assigned as a project to be completed for homework….either way it is sure to be worth the wait!