Kim Foglia’s Building Macromolecules, Digital Edition

How are large biological molecules built and broken?

Grade Level
9th - 12th
60 minutes
Asynchronous Online Face-to-Face Hybrid Synchronous Online

How are you integrating Universal Design for Learning - UDL principles (multiple means of engagement, representation, and action & expression)- into your lesson?

Information is represented visually in this assignment, as well as in-text instructions as students manipulate the molecules in the workspaces. Recording a walk-through video where you show remote learners how to approach the task can provide additional representations of information.

Students can engage individually or with a partner. In-person learners can choose to use Kim’s original hands-on version of this assignment (see original printables and instructions on Kim’s website).

For showing what they’ve learned, students can write, draw, or tell the story of how these molecules are built.

What evidence do you have that you are connecting teaching to the CRP tenets (academic success, cultural competence and critical consciousness)?

Students are introduced to this activity by connecting their and their families’ experiences of favorite foods (from a list of foods with origins around the globe) to the nutrition they contain–or by investigating nutritional, availability, and cost information for several highly-nutritious foods.

This activity can also serve as a bridge to classroom explorations of where food comes from, environmental degradation and antibiotic resistance due to concentrated animal feeding operations in livestock farming, and more intense study of the levels of availability of fresh foods in places where people of different socioeconomic experiences live.

This activity provides a scaffolded yet rigorous active learning experience for a vital part of understanding how living things are made. The topic of macromolecules and how they are created undergirds much of student biology learning about the chemistry of life, cell structure and function, and molecular genetics.

How are you using technology to enhance and enrich the lesson?

Technology, here, provides a seamless way for teachers to have students complete a “card-sort” activity without the time or in-person space needed to cut out cards, use tape, etc. It also allows teachers to set boundaries on how the different building blocks fit together and define the workspace (particularly important for building the saturated fat and the DNA molecule).

About Kim Foglia

About Kim Foglia: Kim was a beloved AP Biology teacher who passed away in January 2011. The AP Biology teaching community has raised funds to keep her archived website, where she posted her curriculum at no charge, up and running as a resource to teachers, and the National Association of Biology Teachers names a Kim Foglia AP Biology Service Awardee yearly.


Social Justice

Identity 4 - Students will express pride, confidence and healthy self-esteem without denying the value and dignity of other people.
Justice 12 - Students will recognize unfairness on the individual level (e.g., biased speech) and injustice at the institutional or systemic level (e.g., discrimination).

AP Biology standards:

  • SYI-1.B Describe the properties of the monomers and the type of bonds that connect the monomers in biological macromolecules.
    • Essential Knowledge SYI-1.B.1 Hydrolysis and dehydration synthesis are used to cleave and form covalent bonds between monomers.
    • Science Practice 2.A Describe characteristics of a biological concept, process, or model represented visually.

IN state content standard for biology:

  • B.1.1 Compare and contrast the shape … of the essential biological macromolecules (i.e. carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids), as well as how chemical elements (i.e. carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur) can combine to form these biomolecules.

IN state science process standard:

  • SEPS.2 Use and construct conceptual models that illustrate ideas and explanations.


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