Star Wars Adaptation & Protein Synthesis

Brief Description

11 week unit in which students design and sculpt an alien animal adapted to a specific Star Wars planet and identify its unique sequence of DNA by investigating ecology of different ecosystems, animal adaptations, and protein synthesis.

    Video Description Of Project

    Unit Overview

    1. Star Wars interdisciplinary unit begins by watching all three original movies.
    2. Students study ecology connected to one planet from each movie.
    3. Groups sculpt their own alien animal specifically adapted to one of the Star Wars planets.
    4. Students investigate Transcription & Translation in order to identify their animal's unique DNA.
    5. Students work backwards through Transcription & Translation to figure out their alien animal’s unique DNA.
    6. Students prepare their alien animal sculptures and its DNA for an Expo by creating an information booklet.
    7. During Expo, students present their alien animal sculptures and its DNA to students and teachers.

    Essential Questions

    • How are animals connected to the environments in which they live?
    • Why do animals look the way they do?

    Suggested Weekly Plan

    Part 1: Star Wars Movies

    Week 1

    Part 2: Star Wars Ecology

    Week 2

    • Have students choose one of the Star Wars Ecology documents using the Star Wars Planet Ecosystem Sign-up document.
    • Make sure environments are evenly distributed.
    • Guide students towards the document with appropriate ability level. Version (a) is easier than version (b)
    • These documents are designed to:
      • Familiarize students with the ecosystem characteristics.
      • Learn about how animals on Earth are specifically adapted to the environment.
      • Apply a critical eye to how the Star Wars alien animals are adapted to their environment.
      • Develop an inventory of adaptations that will be used later when students design their own alien animals.

    Week 3

    • Students create a Google Presentation or a Prezi about the information from their ecology document using the Star Wars Ecology Presentation Outline document
    • In groups of three so that each individual has a unique environment, students teach each other about their environment using their presentation.
    • Peer grading is done using the Adapted Presentation Rubric.
    • Build the rubric with the class.

    Photos of the Star Wars Planet Documents

    Part 3: Create Star Wars Alien Animal

    Week 4

    Week 5 & 6

    Photo Depiction of How Students Built Their Alien Animals


    Time Lapse Video

    • While students sculpted their animals, they made a time lapse video showing the creation of their alien animal from start to finish.
    • Students used JellyCam (free) to record their time lapse video.
      • JellyCam is a program that creates time lapse videos by taking a photograph every two seconds using the computers camera.
    • Students compiled all their time lapse video and edited down into a three minute video using iMovie.
    • Students used the Star Wars Video document as a guide to edit their time lapse video.

    Student Example 1

    Student Example 2

    Part 4: Protein Synthesis

    To identify their alien animal's unique sequence of DNA, students investigate Transcription & Translation.

    Week 7-8

    • To study transcription students used the Transcription Investigation document.
    • The investigation is designed to be centered around student observation, questions, and self-guided research.
    • Students make observations on a diagram of transcription.
    • Then students develop their own questions. 
    • Then create a class list of questions by having students share out their questions.
    • Highlight the research focus question: "What are the steps of Transcription?"
    • Using the online resources provided in the document, students complete investigation.
    • To check for understanding, have students demonstrate & explain the steps of transcription manipulating a magnetized protein synthesis kit.
    • Have students identify the vocabulary, and complete the Vocabulary Chart document.
    • For further vocabulary reinforcement have students do the Transcription Vocabulary Review Paragraph.

     Week 8-9

    Video Journal Mini Project

    (Began after students completed Part 3 of the Star Wars Unit)


    • Video journal prompt: "What is the most interesting thing about the Star Wars movies?"
    • A small group of students collected responses from all our students and guests during the music project.
    • The group used all the responses to create a mashup video using iMovie.


    Check out my video on how to build a website with an embedded timed video recorder that will allow you to easily collect student responses in one place.

    Part 5: Star Wars Alien Animal (continued)

    Identify the DNA sequence of Star Wars alien animals

    Week 10

    Week 11

    Unit Documents

    Other Projects