Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Take A Splash into the Gene Pool

Carolyn Garner
Bay District Schools


This is the third lesson and fifth day of the Unit, What Makes Me Who I Am? Students further explore inherited characteristics by conducting a simulated experiment where they create a person using simple genetic coding.


The student focuses on a central idea or topic (for example, excluding loosely related, extraneous, or repetitious information).

The student uses supporting ideas, details, and facts from a variety of sources to develop and elaborate the topic.

The student knows that many characteristics of an organism are inherited from the genetic ancestors of the organism (for example, eye color, flower color).


-Student Notebooks
-Student Handouts (Available in Associated File)
-Graph paper (use provided or purchase)
-Take a Splash into the Gene Pool
-Drawing our Created Person handout (Optional activity)
-For Fun handout (Optional activity)
-Transparancies of each student handout if a visual aid is deemed necessary by the teacher


1. Copy worksheets for students.
2. Optional: Make transparencies of the student worksheets for a visual aid when going over the directions with students.
3. Read over directions.
4. Gather materials for optional activity.
5. Update the class table of contents as necessary.
6. Decide if students will do the For Fun activity. It might be a good practice for students.


NOTE: Today's lesson relies heavily on the homework that students did previously. Make sure that before beginning this lesson that all students have had an opportunity to complete the homework.

1. Bridge to the previous lesson, Wiggle, Peak, and Roll, by asking students the following discussion questions: Why do scientists use different kinds of investigations? (They need to obtain different information. They are studying different objects. They need to compare and contrast objects, etc.) What are some investigations we have studied? (Observations and experiments.) How can scientists organize the information they collect? (Venn diagram, Dichotomous key, data collection charts and graphs). What are inherited characteristics? (Characteristics we obtain from our genetic ancestors.) Who do you inherit from? (Mom, dad, grandparents, great grandparents, etc.)

2. Review the homework assigned in Wiggle, Peak and Roll. Ask students to share the NEW inherited characteristics they questioned their genetic ancestors about.

3. Have students take out their journals. Have them reflect on the following: What is a trait that many people in your family have? Who has it? Why do you think this is? Is there a trait that you have that no one else has? Why is this so?

4. Have students turn in their homework which was previously assigned. See the assessment section for formative guidance. (Once assessed, return to students to put into journals under pre-selected heading. Add to table of contents on the group and student version.)

5. Ask students to share their journal answers through a discussion. Guide students to the vocabulary words.
Dominant Gene: A genetic characteristic that has the most control or influence.
Recessive Gene: A genetic characteristic that has the least control or influence.

6. Have students reflect in their journals using the new vocabulary. What is a dominant gene in their family? What is a recessive gene that they have that no one else has?

7. Tell students that they are now going to use the idea of dominant and recessive genes to create a PRETEND person. Tell students that there are too many genetic rules, with too many variables for us to learn them all.

8. Distribute the worksheet. (See associated file.)

9. Go over the handout and explain how everything is to be done.

10. When you think they understand, let the students do the worksheet.
(Optional: Allow students to take a piece of construction paper, crayons, and draw their favorite creations. These can then be posted around the room. Use the handout provided in the associated file. This activity may be helpful in assisting students with the concept.)

11. Have students turn in work. Assess according to information found in the assessment section. Once assessed, place into pre-selected section in journals. As you review students' work, identify those students who seem to be struggling with content and allow them to do the Student Web Lesson: Where'd You Get Those Genes? (See Weblinks)

12. Close class with this journal response: Are all human characteristics inherited? What are some characteristics that you think are NOT inherited? Where do they come from? (NOTE: In order to make the unit even more interdisciplinary, it may be helpful to do the journaling in the Language Arts or writing portion of the student's day.)


1. Formatively assess the student journals using the rubric provided in the first lesson, Decidedly Different.

2. Assess the student handouts, Take a Splash Into the Gene Pool, using the following criteria: students know that many characteristics are inherited, and they can show how this is done. The handout should be complete and reflect student understanding of dominant and recessive genes and how they are combined.

3. (OPTIONAL) The drawing would only be assessed in that the students understand the possible VISUAL outcome of their created person.


1. If students seem to be struggling with the content, allow them class time to do the Student Web Lesson: Where'd You Get Those Genes?
2. If the question of cloning comes up, the teacher can use his/her judgment about what should be discussed. I found a few good Websites on this topic and they are in the Weblinks for this lesson.
3. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link listed in Weblinks.
4. The For Fun activity could be done as an additional review for homework or in class. Teacher discretion for usage.

Web Links

In Ewe 2, you will use the Case Study approach to figure out where you stand on partial and whole cloning of humans
Ewe 2: A Case Study

This is the link to the unit plan. Scroll to the associated files to find the Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, Unit Plan Overview, and other files.
What Makes Me Who I Am?

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