This lab activity on genetics is an engaging and informative way for students to discover how our traits are a result of both nature and nurture. An Introduction to Genetics lab activity inventory allows students to explore the genetic components of their life, in alignment with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), helping them gain a better understanding of how hereditary factors impact our lives.
Review the Concepts of Genetics with Your Students.
As a part of this lab activity, it's important to review the core concepts of genetics with your students. Begin by introducing them to terms such as genotype, phenotype, inheritance, dominant traits, and recessive traits. Explain how these terms apply to genetic principles and how they affect characteristics or traits that are passed down through generations. You may also want to discuss human heredity and any environmental factors that can impact a trait or characteristic. Doing this will allow your students to gain a better grasp of the foundational science behind genetics before exploring their own genealogy.
NGSS Standards Covered in this Lesson
- MS-LS1-4 Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.
- MS-LS1-5 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.
- MS-LS3-1 Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism.
I Can Statement: Genetics
I can explain why plants and animals have different physical traits in order for the species to survive.
Genetics Lesson Vocabulary
- Acquired or Behavioral
- DNA, organism
Introduction to Genetic Traits Activity.
Once students have a basic understanding of genetics, it’s time to introduce the exploration of traits! Ask students to identify different physical features, such as hair color and eye color, and have them fill out their own Traits Inventory. Have them list the trait they possess along with notes on whether they think they inherited those traits from one or both parents. This activity will help your students understand how traits are passed down through families and how genetic principles affect our everyday lives.
Here are the Files Downloadable Files for the Introduction to Genetics Lab Activity
Utilizing Student Inventories for a Discussion of Traits and Genetics.
To further their understanding of genetics and how it affects individuals, have your students compare their Trait Inventories with the other members of their group. This can be a great way to start a class-wide conversation about the genetic principles underlying our lives. Ask and discuss questions such as "How many different traits can you see amongst your group members?" or "What traits do most people in your group have in common?". By connecting their personal experiences with scientific theory, they'll deepen their knowledge and become more engaged in exploring genetics!
Structured Lab Work Using Pictures, Models or Online Genealogy Data Sources for Observation & Interpretation of Data
As students complete the Trait Inventory activity, have them use structured lab work to further explore their own traits and the traits of others in their group. They can use pictures or models to compare features and observe similarities, or for more detailed information about genetics, have them utilize an online genealogy source such as GEDmatch. By observing, interpreting and comparing data from two or more sources (in this case, physical observation vs. online data), they will learn how genetic traits are inherited and how they can be used to trace ancestry!
Create New Pedigree Charts Translating Genes into Traits.
After completing the Trait Inventory activity, have students use a pedigree chart to illustrate which traits are passed down genetically. Ask them to create a pedigree chart and analyze their own data — as well as that of other student volunteers — to determine how genetic traits are inherited. In this way, they’ll be able to translate the genes they inherited from their parents and grandparents into the traits they carry now. This exercise will further enhance their understanding of how genes influence our lives, and allow them to take away useful life scientific insights!
Inventory of Our Traits
Inherited traits can take one or more variation. For example, an individual may have dimples or not have dimples. In later lessons, you will learn more about dominant and recessive traits and what determines the traits you have.
One misconception is that the traits that are most common in a population are always those that are dominant. That is often the case, but there are exceptions, including some genetic disorders that we will look at in a later lesson.
Each of the traits we will examine are determined by a single gene, so they are either present or not present. Many inherited traits are more complicated.
As you look at the traits that are present in your class and compare the frequencies, think about whether the traits that appeared in more of your classmates are the dominant trait. They are labeled in the data table for your information with the dominant trait as (D) and the recessive as (R)
In the next lessons, you will learn how scientists study how traits are passed down.
Introduction to Genetics Learning Objectives:
At the end of this Introduction to Genetics Lab Activity, students are expected to:
- Determine which variations they have for different traits.
- Compare the traits of classmates to determine if there are more dominant or recessive traits in this populationHelp your classmates determine who has which traits. Look at the pictures showing what those traits look like.
Help your classmates determine who has which traits. Look at the pictures showing what those traits look like.
Here is your Free Content on Introduction to Genetics
Introduction to Genetics - PDFs
- 5-1a Vocabulary Worksheet TE - Introduction to Genetics (Members Only)
- 5-1a Vocabulary Worksheet SE - Introduction to Genetics (PDF)
- 5-1b Vocabulary Worksheet TE - Asexual vs Sexual Reproduction (Members Only)
- 5-1b Vocabulary Worksheet SE - Asexual vs Sexual Reproduction (Members Only)
- 5-1a Lesson Plan - Introduction to Genetics (PDF)
- 5-1b Lesson Plan - Asexual vs Sexual Reproduction (Members Only)
- 5-1 Slide Show - Introduction to Genetics (PDF)
- 5-1 Online Activities - Introduction to Genetics (PDF)
- 5-1a Guided Notes TE - Introduction to Genetics (Members Only)
- 5-1a Guided Notes SE - Introduction to Genetics (PDF)
- 5-1b Guided Notes TE - Asexual vs Sexual Reproduction (Members Only)
- 5-1b Guided Notes SE - Asexual vs Sexual Reproduction (Members Only)
- 5-1a Exit Quiz TE - Introduction to Genetics (Members Only)
- 5-1b Exit Quiz TE - Asexual vs Sexual Reproduction (Members Only)
- 5-1a Exit Quiz SE - Introduction to Genetics (PDF)
- 5-1b Exit Quiz SE - Asexual vs Sexual Reproduction (Members Only)
- 5-1a Bell Work TE - Introduction to Genetics (Members Only)
- 5-1b Bell Work TE - Asexual vs Sexual Reproduction (Members Only)
- 5-1a Bell Work SE - Introduction to Genetics (PDF)
- 5-1b Bell Work SE - Asexual vs Sexual Reproduction (Members Only)
Introduction to Genetics Worksheets - Word Docs & PowerPoints
To gain access to our editable content Join the iTeachly Life Science Teacher Community!
Here you will find hundreds of lessons, a community of teachers for support, and materials that are always up to date with the latest standards.
Want Access to Everything in the Genetics Unit?
Unit 5 - Genetics
- 5-1 Introduction to Genetics
- 5-1a Introduction to Genetics
- 5-1b Introduction to Genetics - Asexual vs Sexual Reproduction
- 5-2 Early Ideas About Heredity
- 5-3 Mendel's Experiment
- 5-4 Mendel's Laws of Inheritance
- 5-5 Chromosomes
- 5-5a Chromosomes
- 5-5b Chromosomes
- 5-6 Alleles and Genes
- 5-7 The Punnett Square
- 5-7a The Punnett Square
- 5-7b The Punnett Square
- 5-8 Pedigree
- 5-9 Genetic Disorder