Category Archives: Genetics


Ever wonder why humans spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping?  Watch the PBS NOVA episode Mysteries of Sleep and learn the answer to that question and more!

Learn more about the connection between adenosine, caffeine, and sleep by watching the TedEd video below:


Turn it up to 11!

  • Create a sleep journal.  Think about the factors that might impact your sleep each day, then track those along with how much sleep you get each night.  Which factors seem to affect your sleep?  Which factors don’t seem affect your sleep?  Add and remove factors to help you dial in on how to get the best possible sleep each night.
  • Create a dream diary.  Record your dreams upon waking.  Write them down, draw them out, or narrate them into your phone.  Notice any trends or patterns?  How often are you able to recall your dreams?  Does your ability to remember your dreams correlate with how long or how well you sleep?  Does the content of your dreams correlate with your past, present, or future experiences?  Do you have recurring dreams?
  • Learning to remember. Feeling tired after a long day of learning at school?  Try a Power Nap and see whether it helps you remember what you learned during the day.  Are you more efficient at completing homework before or after a Power Nap?

Week 21

Monday, February 3, 2020 (HS-LS3-1): We took notes on the structure of genes, including a review of how chromosomes are found in the nucleus of cells, how chromosomes consist of DNA coiled around histone proteins, and how genes consist of regulatory regions, exons, and introns.

Biology 200203 Picture

Class concluded with the Crash Course video about heredity (below).  We paused strategically to capture important vocabulary terms (diploid, haploid, somatic cells, gametes) which were added to our vocabulary list from Friday.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020 (HS-LS3-2): To begin class, we watched the Amoeba Sisters video about meiosis (below) and students worked through a guided worksheet.

After the video, students had the remainder of class to read pages 52-59 of Inside the Cell to help them complete the Amoeba Sisters worksheet and to investigate the processes of independent assortment and crossing over.  Students answered the “Got It?” questions on page 59 of the book in their lab notebooks.

To demonstrate evidence of understanding, students were tasked with creating a stop-motion claymation video or Google Slides explaining the processes of independent assortment and crossing over (shared with the teacher).

Wednesday, February 5, 2020: Today is a continuation of yesterday.  Completed videos or slides depicting independent assortment and crossing over are due today.  Students who finish early should begin working on the One Trait Mouse Genetics Gizmo.

Thursday, February 6, 2020: As we enter the final week of Unit 5: Inheritance and Meiosis, we turn our attention toward the process of reproduction.  Class begins with a video which explains the process of human fertilization.  After a brief class discussion about what was learned and what questions remain, students were assigned a reading from the textbook along with the questions below:

In the BSCS textbook, read “Making More People” (p.477-481)

  1. How many ova are found in the ovaries of a newborn baby?
  2. How many ova mature into healthy ova?
  3. Where and when do ova begin maturing?
  4. Where are mature ova fertilized by sperm?
  5. Where are sperm formed?
  6. How long does it take an individual sperm to develop?
  7. How do sperm obtain the energy to swim through the female reproductive tract?
  8. How and why does the male body regulate testicle temperature?
  9. Explain the difference between a zygote, an embryo, and a fetus.
  10. What determines when a woman is ready to begin labor?

Friday, February 7, 2020: Class will begin with a short quiz focusing on:

  • Punnett Square vocabulary
  • Mitosis and meiosis: similarities and differences

After the quiz, students will have the remainder of the class period to complete and turn in any remaining work from this week.  Students who finish early should work on the single-trait Punnett Square Gizmo handed out last Friday.

Chromosome Project Poster Walk

The chromosome project culminated today with a poster walk.  Students placed their posters on their desks and then looked over each other’s posters while completing the poster walk handout.  After the poster walk, students turned in the handout (15 points), their completed posters (10 points), and their research notes (25 points).

Selected Chromosome Project Posters

Review Comparing Mitosis and Meiosis

With our next quiz rapidly approaching (tomorrow!) we used the first half of class to compare mitosis and meiosis.  Our work is shown below:

After the review, students had the opportunity to complete the dihybrid cross Gizmo.  Those who finished received a copy of a dihybrid cross practice worksheet for further review.  A copy of the completed front side of the worksheet can be viewed by clicking here.

Diybrid Crosses (two-trait Punnett Squares)

As a review from last week’s  work on monohybrid crosses (single-trait Punnett Squares) and to extend student learning of Punnett Squares to dihybrid crosses (two- traits Punnett Squares), we began class with the following video by Mr. Anderson of Bozeman Science:

We then applied these concepts to a Two-Trait Punnett Square Gizmo in which students worked together in pairs to complete a work packet which included an additional review and application of the vocabulary learned thus far.

Notes from the white board for determining the alleles in a diybrid cross:

Punnett Squares (one trait)

To reinforce concepts introduced in the video yesterday but not covered in the reading assignment, we spent today learning and applying the vocabulary of inheritance.  We dusted off the cobwebs from student memories from middle school, reviewing the vocabulary words of:

  • genotype: the genetic makeup of an organism
  • phenotype: the physical appearance of an organism
  • allele: one of two or more forms that a gene could take
  • dominant allele: an allele that is always expressed when it is present (usually represented by a capital letter)
  • recessive allele: an allele that is not expressed when the dominant allele is present (usually represented by a lower case letter)
  • homozygous: having two alleles that are the same
  • heterozygous: having two alleles that are different
  • probability: the likelihood of an even

We then applied the vocabulary to an example Punnett Square about eye color inheritance patterns.  Students were provided with the following set of notes to reinforce concepts learned yesterday and provide context for our work today:

We then applied these concepts to a Single-Trait Punnett Square Gizmo in which students worked together in pairs to complete a work packet which included a review and application of the vocabulary learned thus far.

Students looking for additional practice are invited to complete the Punnett Square worksheet.

Structure and Function of Genes

For day one of our two-day lesson on the structure and function of genes, students were tasked with modeling the four types of DNA mutations described in yesterday’s case study on cystic fibrosis.  Students were given a wild-type DNA sequence and then had to solve the RNA and resulting amino acid sequences (see Structure and Function of Genes – Day 1 Power Point).  After a review of the types of mutations, students then introduced each type of mutation into the DNA sequence, solving both the RNA and amino acid sequences and connecting the vocabulary with the actual process of mutating DNA in specific ways to effect a specific outcome on the amino acid sequence.

Update: January 19

For day 2 of this lesson, we took notes on the structure of genes, including a review of how chromosomes are found in the nucleus of cells, how chromosomes consist of DNA coiled around histone proteins, and how genes consist of regulatory regions, exons, and introns.  At the end of the lesson, we previewed single-trait Punnett Squares to prime students for next week.

Structure and Function of Genes
Punnett Square Preview

EOC Review: Unit 4 Review / Research and Explore

With several students in each of my classes absent because of the Algebra EOC, we used the class period to review a variety of concepts up through Unit 4.  Students reviewed the water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles by reviewing posters they had made earlier in the school year.  For students who were absent, an example of one poster is provided below:


We also reviewed genetics (vocabulary, single-trait Punnett Squares, and dihybrid crosses) along with mitosis, meiosis, and fertilization.


Students in attendance also received a copy of the EOC-style writing prompt called Research and Explore.  We spent a few minutes discussing the prompt and looking at the rubric, and students are welcome to practice working through the prompt as homework.  The prompt will not be collected as homework.

Reproduction, Inheritance, and Meiosis: Sources of inherited genetic variation

We returned to our class textbook for today’s lesson.  After an entry task designed to promote student thinking around which types of cells pass along traits to offspring (the gametes!), students worked together to construct histograms which they then used for the lesson from the textbook.  Slides for today are attached here.

Note: students who need additional time to complete Friday’s quiz can complete the quiz in my classroom after school until 2:30 today.

Reproduction, Inheritance, and Meiosis: Quiz

The quiz today covered one and two-trait Punnett Squares, challenged students to compare mitosis and meiosis using ten key unit vocabulary terms, and included a questioned designed to provoke student thinking around a topic incorporating genetics, evolution, and student opinion.

For students interested in learning more about how genetics affect appearance, the links below are excellent resources:

The genetics of eye color: What Color Eyes will your Children Have?

The genetics of height: Number of genes linked to height revealed by study

The genetics of skin color: Unpacking Human Evolution to Find the Genetic Determinants of Human Skin Pigmentation