How can science instruction engage students in 21st-century skills and inquiry-based learning, even when doing simple labs in the classroom? We collaborated with teachers in professional development workshops to transform “cookbook” activities into engaging laboratory experiences. We show how to change the common classroom activity of DNA extraction of wheat germ to integrate cooperative group strategies, graphic organizers, and classroom discussions. Teachers found these strategies helpful as they worked to adapt instruction that prepared students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in 21st-century Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers.

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