Learning Exercise

Introduction to Heredity

A way in which to give students visual and hands on practice in understanding genetic inheritance.
Course: Biology

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Allow students time to explore the different heredity and genetics gizmos available on the site, each one giving interactive practice in the process of inheritance. Next, follow up the computer simulation with a classroom hands on simulation. Give each student a set of genotypes for approximately five (or how many the instructor deems appropriate) different traits (example: small ears, brown hair, big feet, purple eyebrows, etc). Next, instruct the students to pair up with another student and "create offspring"-- that is, each partner takes one allele of their genotype for each trait to combine it with an allele from the other student. Finally, have students present their original individual genotypes and the resulting phenotype of the offspring. Follow up with classroom discussion.

Technical Notes

Students will be utilizing the heredity and genetics gizmos found on the site for hands-on experience. The links, at the time of this assignment, were found at the bottom right of the home page, under the drop down menu for Science Gizmos. Click on the Biology option under grades 9 through 12, then on the Heredity and Genetics link for the listing of genetic interactives.


Some basic familiarity with the topic of inheritance, genotypes, and phenotypes.


genetics, heredity, pedigree

Learning Objectives

To give students a working understanding of the role of genetics in the phenotypic expression of traits and the role of parental genetic makeup (California Biology/Life Science standard 2.g for grades 9 through 12).