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)
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
- Why don’t DNA changes always change the phenotype?
- Why is DNA stored inside the nucleus in eukaryotic cells?
- How does the genome differ across different species? Refer to plants, bacteria and animals in your answer.
- Does organism complexity correlate with genome size? Explain your answer.