Heredity and Variation: Inheritance (first in series)

Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the first of three Science Objects in the Heredity and Variation SciPack. It explores the historical perspective and experiments of Mendel. Sexual reproduction results in the continuity of species accompanied with a great deal of variation in physical traits. One familiar observation is that offspring are very much like their parents but still show some variation— differing somewhat from their parents and from one another. People have long been curious about heredity, using even the most primitive understanding of inheritance to cultivate desirable traits in domesticated species. In the 1800s, Gregor Mendel took his observations of heredity and variation to new heights through carefully designed and executed breeding experiments that generated repeatable inheritance patterns. Mendel developed a model for explaining the patterns he observed, describing discrete units or “particles,” which both segregate and assort independently of one another during inheritance. This model offered a foundational explanation for how variation is generated through sexual reproduction. Although Mendel’s model over-simplified how traits are inherited and expressed, it set the stage for the discoveries of chromosomes and genes from which contemporary genetics grew. Learning Outcomes: Explain how domestication of plants and animals produced an early understanding of inheritance. Use Mendel’s model to explain patterns of inheritance represented in graphic form (for example, data tables, histograms, etc.). Identify the conditions required for an inheritance pattern to be explained correctly by Mendel’s model. Use data representing patterns of inheritance to support the idea that some observable traits are defined by discrete units of inheritance that segregate and assort independently of one another during inheritance. Access lesson here.

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