What Will Our Baby Look Like?

Teacher: Michael Howard Weiss

Subject: inheritance, genotypes, phenotypes, alleles

Grade Level(s): 9 10 11 12

Target Audience: Biology I

Materials Needed: handouts, paper, colored pencils, pennies

Class Time: One class period to complete lab, one class period for Q & A

Brief Summary: 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.

Student Objective(s): Demonstrate the principle of dominance, the relationship between an individual's genotype and phenotype, the role of probability in genetics, and the effects of incomplete dominance. Distinguish between dominance, codominance, and incomplete dominance. Illustrate the principles of segregation and independent assortment, and the concept of polygenic inheritance.

Integration (tying it all together): Students discuss and answer questions concerning genotypes, phenotypes, incomplete dominance, codominance, principles of dominance, recessiveness, segregation, independent assortment, and probability, polygenic inheritance, Mendelian ratios, sex-linked traits, and epistasis. Students also utilize chi-square analysis to compare their results with expected ones.

Description of Activities:
1.) Students pair up in groups of two.
2.) To determine the genotype for each trait listed, each partner flips his/her coin (heads represents dominant allele; tails represents recessive allele).
3.) The "father" flips his coin to determine the sex of the child (heads represents a girl, tails represents a boy).
4.) The "parents" then take turns flipping their coins and recording the alleles they contribute for a variety of facial characteristics.
5.) The students match the genotypes that result to a variety of illustrations representing contrasting dominant and recessive characteristics.
6.) Once all of the features for a particular facial structure (for example, the eye) are determined, the students then draw and color this structure.
7.) This process is continued until a complete baby face of a school-age child is constructed.

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