Genetics Lesson Plans
An archive of classroom activities submitted by high school biology and life sciences teachers participating in the Human Genome Teacher Networking Project program prior to October 1997, individual teachers may have updated information, supplemental materials, and references. Other ideas for lesson plans are at the lesson plan site.
Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of the Human Genome Project
Bioethics and the HGP Case studies of Fragile-X, colon cancer, Huntington disease and schizophrenia are used in decision making situations which are evaluated using the Principles and Rules of Ethics. DNA fingerprinting is evaluated in terms of privacy issues. Knappers and Chadwick's 5 Basic Principles Regarding Ethical or Legal Norms of the Human Genome Project are discussed.
Bioethics: Debates in the Science Classroom Debates in the Biology class?! Absolutely! Incorporating performance assessment activities such as debate, mock trial, and parody allow the "non-science" student chances to excel. Bioethical decision-making is a perfect classroom tool.
Biotechnology Education Program The Biotechnology Education Program is a two-three week multidisciplinary, spiraled curriculum that exposes entire high schools to the issues involved/or brought about by improvements in biotechnology. Math, English, Social Science, and Science lessons have been written by teachers to explore themes over a given year. This was developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Case Study -- Should the Results of the Human Genome Project be Sold for Profit? The idea of patenting the discoveries made by scientists working on the Human Genome Project has raised a significant controversy. The chief argument against the issuing of patents is two-fold: the work of the scientists has been paid with tax dollars; therefore, any results from that work rightfully belong to the taxpayers. From a moral stand point, the information belongs to all members of the human race.
DNA and Ethics: Unraveling the Code of Life Paper and slide presentation which I have developed traces genetics from Mendel and Darwin through Watson and Crick to modern biotechnology. Questionnaire on audience's attitudes toward present day biotechnology techniques is provide. A series of debates is held addressing several current day biotechnology topics presented by students.
Ethical Applications of Human Genetics Students are exposed to satellite programs such as the Human Genome Project sponsored by the Massachusetts Corporation for Educational Telecommunications (MCET). This program also provides e-mail links, videotapes, and video disks and content support for participating teachers.
Ethics? In High School? Many teachers want to expose their students to the ethical dilemmas involved with the new genetic technologies, however, teachers have little training in ethics. Here is very condensed information about ethics and its use in schools.
Genetic Counseling Science News, Vol 146, Nov 5, 1994, presented four real cases involving the ethics of DNA testing that were part of a Short Course in Medical and Experimental Mammalian Genetics at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, ME, during that summer. Unlike the other cases that my students discuss throughout the year, they can match their arguments and conclusions with experts, whose conclusions were printed in a follow-up article, Vol 146, Dec 17, 1994.
Genetic Disorder Role Play Activity As students begin to understand how inheritance patterns operate, they realize that sometimes something goes wrong. Alleles can be inherited that have a deleterious effect upon an offspring. Nondisjunction can (and does) occur also having negative effects on the offspring. Students are now confronted by their own feelings and belief systems as to what to do in these situations. This activity affords them the chance to explore feelings and beliefs within a framework that is non-threatening to themselves or others. It also allows them the opportunity to use ethical decision-making models.
Genetic Research: A Congressional Hearing Students participate in a mock hearing of the U.S. Senate subcommittee on genetic research. Students representing support groups for various genetic disorders present arguments for continued federal funding, while subcommittee members are faced with budget cuts in genetic research. Who will receive continued funding? Who will face federal cuts? Much depends on the persuasiveness of their presentations.
Genetic Screening In The Workplace: Case Study Students participate in a small group discussion/role play of a specific case study concerning the use of genetic screening in the workplace.
Legal Aspects of Tissue This lesson uses a role play format to discuss the bioethical issues involved with fetal tissue transplantation. Students first view two videotapes: Nova "The Case of the Frozen Addict" and a 60 Minutes segment entitled, "Life, Death and Politics." The Nova videotape introduces a case in which fetal tissue transplantation was used to treat Parkinson's-like symptoms caused by synthetic heroin. The 60 Minutes segment is about a Baptist minister and his wife who use fetal tissue transplantation to treat their child, who has Hurler's Syndrome. In the role play, students take the positions of various people and organizations and discuss the views of these groups on this procedure.
Marked For Life As an introduction to Human Genetics, a copy of a 48 Hours program titled, "Marked for Life" is shown in two parts while students complete a study guide. The day following each part, groups are formed to further discuss scenarios from the video.
Whatcha Gonna Do? Students are asked to make a list of values, clarify them, and then use them to make rational decisions about genetic problems. Teachers model the process; students apply the concepts; students further write their own case studies to further apply the concepts. This is the model (modified a little) that Dr. Jon Hendrix used in his Ball State University classes.
General Genetics, Inheritance Patterns, Genetic Counseling & Biotechnology
Basic Human Inheritance Patterns Using simple tools such as colored yarn and paper, students create long banners showing stages of meiosis (spermatogenesis and oogenesis) and formation of gametes. These projects are used again when studying crossing over, gene linkage, segregation and independent assortment of allels in the gametes and studying certain human inheritance patterns.
Bio Jeopardy Takeoff of tv game "Jeopardy" that uses genetics answers.
Birth Defects, Genetic Disorders and Pedigree Analysis Students research a genetic condition and orally present their results to the class.
A Cell Is Like A City This activity, which can be modified to meet the needs of the class, reinforces the understanding of structure and function of the cell (eukaryotic).
Cells, Socks, and Sex Visual representation of mitosis, meiosis, gamete formation and fertilization.
cDNA Sequencing By Restriction Project This project is an actual part of the Human Genome project. Students are actively engaged in trying to confirm the sequence of a given cDNA clone using the WWW tools and traditional restriction analysis. The students grow the clone, prep the plasmid, cut the plasmid with restriction enzymes and compare their results to what was predicted to cut via webcutter on the world wide web.
Create-A-Kid Students flip a pair of coins to determine what genotype and what phenotype their child will have for 29 given traits. They then draw a picture of their kid based on their coin flip phenotypes.
Creating a Genetics Condition Pamphlet Students prepare a pamphlet of a human genetic condition which is presented to the class.
Did You Get the Message? This lesson can be used as an introduction to genetic code and protein synthesis by comparing the genetic code to many other codes used in everyday living.
DNA Fingerprinting Simulation of the process of gel electrophoresis used to separate DNA fragments of different lengths. Each student prepares his/her own DNA fingerprint and compares it to others in the class.
DNA Fingerprinting Three fragments of DNA are cut, pasted and compared.
DNA Model and Protein Synthesis Students build a 3-dimensional model of DNA coding for the hormone oxytocin.
DNA Sequencing Model Lab Students pretend they are each genetic engineers with a test tube of unknown DNA (PCR'd) possibly taken from blood cells of someone with a genetic condition. A DNA sequence is displayed, and students write all segments possible if di-deoxy bases are added. These are torn (cut) and taped (poured) onto "gel" sheets at front of room into proper base size rows, then sequence.
Family Medical History Pedigree A family medical history is of prime importance to your physician, to you, and in the future, could be very valuable to your children and other future descendents.
Genetic Disease Pamphlet Students will design a pamphlet to inform and educate people about an inherited disease or disorder.
Genetic Disease Symposium Genetic students prepare the resource information for class use during genetic counseling exercise for the Advanced Child Development students. The Baby Think It Over dolls, used in Child Development, create a realistic model for infant care and the addition of a possible genetic disease or birth defect adds an element of interest that enhances the learning for both classes.
Genetic Pamphlet with a Purpose For their final examination, students design a human genetic condition pamphlet which they will present to the class and then take to a doctor's or pediatrician's office.
Hemoglobin Posters Students in Advanced Biology prepare a poster showing the structure of normal and abnormal (sickle cell) hemoglobin. The poster includes models of primary, secondary, tertiary and quadranary structure. The posters were then critiqued by (and used to teach) students in 10th grade honors biology.
The Hope of Science: DNA Practical Applications Time Line Students will design a time line to inform and educate people about the history of DNA practical applications.
How to Conquer a Genetic Disease Restriction analysis of DNA is used to map different segments of the genome. This helps in placing markers on the DNA molecule, which can then be used to locate the gene(s) of interest. We will learn about the use of these markers to gain further information about genetic diseases. There is accurate testing available now for many genetic conditions that can be done in order to determine whether the developing fetus has the trait for the disease.
Human Genetics Research Report Students write a research paper in first person on a human genetics condition.
Invent PCR: You May Win a Nobel Prize The polymerase chain reaction has revolutionized medical diagnostics, microbiology and forensic science. While the technique is rather simple and straightforward, few students understand it as they should. The typical illustration included in textbooks and articles about the subject generally dies not lead to a true understanding of how target sequences are selectively amplified. After working through this activity, students should have a clear picture of how each step in PCR works, and the means by which the desired DNA sequences is amplified.
Karyotype Identification Students are put into groups and each is given an unknown picture of chromosomes from an individual. The students are asked to lake a karyotype from their chromosomes and diagnose the genetic problem (if there is one).
Karyotypes & Chromosome Inheritance This activity enables students to become familiar with genetic loci and linking. It reemphasizes basic Mendelian inheritance while stressing independent assortment and probabilities. Students construct karyotypes and determine % of chromosomal inheritance from grandparents.
Lost Baby This lab simulation is built around the scenario of a lost baby. The students are introduced to the lost baby and circumstances surrounding her dilemma. In order to find her parents, each male student is given a blue DNA paper strip and each girl is given a pink DNA strip. By using the restriction enzyme EcoR1, they create restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP), analyze the results, and solve the mystery of the lost baby.
Mitosis Dance Students explore genetics through multiple intelligence; mitosis is demonstrated through dance; students represent chromosomes.
Mitosis Dance Mitosis Dance is a simple yet easy way to help students recall the major DNA events during mitosis.
My Family & Me The purpose of this activity is to reinforce the concepts of phenotypes and how they relate to genotypes in the inheritance of simple dominant traits. The students will create a pedigree with both phenotypes and genotypes for the members of their own family.
One Family's Fingerprints Students will read the segment, "One Family's Fingerprints," in the May 1992 National Geographic and analyze the DNA fingerprints of family members. They will determine inheritance patterns of seven genes in the family and label the genotypes of each individual on a pedigree. Students will then predict which family members would suffer from genetic conditions when specific genes are assigned to members of the family.
Paper Cloning Exercise Student are allowed to learn the function of restriction enzymes in recombinant techniques before doing the actual lab.
Paper Electrophoresis This activity illustrates the concept of electrophoresis without using expensive equipment.
Putting It All Together This activity involves the combination of several activities. The students are introduced to DNA Fingerprinting by learning to use their critical thinking skills to derive a concept. Through the use of "Palindromes," students will learn the meaning of "recognition sites," the cutting of DNA sequences, and the fingerprints formed by means of these various size cuts and the number of base pairs involved.
Restriction Enzyme Mapping Students are given data collected from a lab. Restriction enzymes are used to cut up the DNA plasmid pBR322. After analyzing the data, students will create a plasmid that shows where each restriction enzyme cleaves the plasmid.
RFLP Paternity Testing -- A Simulation After learning the mechanism of gel electrophoresis in DNA profiling, students will use simulated autorads to discover the principle utilized to determine paternity.
Screen Your Genes This lesson can be used to introduce students to the concepts of meiosis, independent assortment, fertilization and genetic variation.
Should Parents Select the Sex of Their Children? Students are given a set of ten situations. They must decide if sex selection should or should not be recommended.
Similarly Genetically Different How can humans who are remarkably so similar be so dissimilar? The answer lies in the fact that although we contain the same chromosomes, the genes on those chromosomes are different.
What Will Our Baby Look Like? This laboratory activity involves students working in pairs to simulate the production of a baby with certain facial features. In order to accomplish this, the students take turns flipping coins and from the outcome of each flip, indicate whether they will contribute a dominant or recessive allele to the genotype of their offspring (heads represents a dominant allele; tails represents a recessive allele). Upon matching the resulting genotypes with illustrations provided to represent them, the students concluded the activity by drawing and coloring a baby face encompassing the indicated features.
Where's the Cat? Using paper DNA
sequences, the class tries to find the answer to a paternity problem. After a woman was
raped, she finds herself pregnant and wants to know whether the father is her husband or
the suspected rapist. The paper DNA is cut, run on a gel, and probed, all in simulation.
Students can see how restriction enzymes, gel electrophoresis, and probe hybridization
work. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
Genetic Conditions & Support Groups | Genetic Societies | Clinical Resources | Labs | Clinics | Genetics Education | Careers | Cytogenetics | Genome Centers | Genetic Computer Resources | Professional Education | Diversity | Advocacy | Glossaries | Advisors | Software | Disclaimer | Privacy | About | FAQ | Suggestions & Feedback | Search
Genetics Education Center
University of Kansas Medical Center © 1995-2012
Debra Collins, M.S. CGC, Genetic Counselor, email@example.com
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: