Worksheets and lesson ideas to challenge students aged 11 to 16 to think hard about genes and inheritance (GCSE and Key Stage 3)
If there is one thing that blows my mind it is the fact that there is one universal genetic code. You can take a gene from a human, put it into a bacterium and the bacterium will make the human protein. Now that’s cool. Understanding genetics is important for lots of different concepts, from understanding evolution to gene therapy but there are lots of similar words to learn, all with very different meanings which can make it a tricky area to teach.
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.