Genes and inheritance teaching resources

Worksheets and lesson ideas to challenge students aged 11 to 16 to think hard about genes and inheritance (GCSE and Key Stage 3)

An understanding of genetics is an important outcome of any science education course. Comprehension of this subject isn’t just crucial for students looking to start a biosciences-related degree; it also ensures we have scientifically literate citizens who can participate in meaningful debate about genetically modified organisms and gene therapy. Genetics involves a vast and complex language that teachers need to explicitly address so students can construct understanding. 

Where to start?

Extract DNA from strawberries as a demonstration. This can then lead to a discussion about how DNA is organised inside the nucleus.

Nuclei, genes and chromosomes

Key Stage 3 activity on organisation of genetic material. An analogy model is introduced in parallel with the scientific idea which hopefully helps students make sense of the relationships between nuclei, chromosomes, genes and DNA. (PDF)

Genes, chromosomes and proteins

GCSE activity on genes, DNA and proteins. This worksheet helps students understand the relationship between genes, DNA and proteins. Students work in groups to list various structures, such as genes, DNA and proteins, in order of size. Students also describe the structure of DNA, and explain how DNA codes for proteins. (PDF)

Genetic modification

GCSE activity on genetic modification of bacteria. Students order a sequence of steps to correctly describe the process of genetic modification of a bacterium using plasmids. (PDF)

GCSE activity on transgenic plants. This activity encourages students to think like a scientist. It challenges them to develop a grant proposal for a transgenic potato plant that is resistant to insects. Students describe the steps involved in the process of genetic modification and outline what equipment they would need. (PDF)

Polymerase chain reaction

This fantastic video on PCR is a great addition to any lesson on the polymerase chain reaction. The lyrics are worth listening. You can also download them here.

Thinking deeper

Back to Biology teaching resources