Cookie Genetics Lab (aligned with NGSS and New York State Standards)

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Time: 2 periods
This lab/activity is by far the lab that my students would say is their absolute favorite. It incorporates their favorite motivator: food; with the concepts of genetic mutations and protein synthesis. It can even be extended into discussions about variations and evolution.

In this activity we are going to use the analogy of cookie recipes to that of the DNA "recipes" for living things to help us understand more about mutations. Several of you have baked the same type of cookie, the perennially favorite chocolate chip. Some of you have used the original recipe but a few were given a recipe in which an alteration (mutation) has occurred. Today you will work in groups to make observations, including an "in-depth enzymatic analysis" (eating), to determine whether a particular cookie was produced from a recipe that contained a mutation, and, if so, what might that mutation be.

Materials provided in this purchase:
Teacher Lesson Plan
Student Handouts
7 Recipe cards to print and give to students in advance
48 slide PowerPoint Presentation (PC)
and the same presentation in Keynote (Mac)

Next Generation Science Standards:
(the following concepts could be applied to this lesson but is dependent on the instructors approach and the discussion following the activity)
LS1.A Structure and Function
LS1.B Growth and Development of Organisms
LS3.A Inheritance of Traits
LS3.B Variation of Traits
LS4.A Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity
LS4.B Natural Selection
LS4.C Adaptation

Following this lesson, the student should be able to:
Define the term "mutation"
Perform an enzymatic analysis (eating and tasting) of the species given (cookies)
Record the group data from the investigation.
Discuss the type and severity of each of the mutations and how they Relate to DNA, protein synthesis, natural selection, and evolution.
Review the process of protein synthesis
Explain how the process of making the cookies is similar and different to the process of protein synthesis

New York State Standards / Key Ideas:
(the following standards and key ideas could be applied to this lesson but is dependent on the instructor’s approach and the discussion following the activity)
Standard 1
Major Understanding:
1.2a Inquiry involves asking questions and locating, interpreting, and processing information from a variety of sources.
3.1a Interpretation of data leads to development of additional hypotheses, the formulations of generalizations, or explanations of natural phenomena.

Standard 4
Major Understanding:
2.1b Every organism requires a set of coded instructions for specifying its traits.
2.1f In all organisms, the coded instructions for specifying the characteristics of the organism are carried in DNA.
2.1g Cells store and use coded information. The genetic information stored in DNA is used to direct the synthesis of the thousands of proteins that each cell requires.
2.1h Any alteration of the DNA sequence is a mutation. Usually, an altered gene will be passed on to every cell that develops from it.
2.1j Offspring resemble their parents because they inherit similar genes that code for the production of proteins that form similar structures and perform similar functions.
2.2b In recent years new varieties of farm plants and animals have been engineered by manipulating their genetic instructions to produce new characteristics.
2.2d Inserting, deleting, or substituting DNA segments can alter genes. An altered gene may be passed on to every cell that develops from it.
3.1b New inheritable characteristics can result from new combinations of existing genes or from mutations of genes in reproductive cells.
3.1d Mutations occur as random chance events. Gene mutations can also be caused by such agents as radiation and chemicals.
3.1f Species evolve over time. Evolution is the consequence of the interactions of interactions of (1) the potential of a species to increase its numbers, (2) the genetic variability of offspring due to mutation and recombination of genes, (3) a finite supply of the resources required for life, and (4) the ensuing selection by the environment of those offspring better able to survive and leave offspring.
3.1g Some characteristics give individuals an advantage over others in surviving and reproducing, and the advantaged offspring, in turn, are more likely than others to survive and reproduce. The proportion of individuals that have advantageous characteristics will increase.
3.1h The variation of organisms within a species increases the likelihood that at least some members of the species will survive under changed environmental conditions.
3.1l Extinction of a species occurs when the environmental conditions and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient to allow its survival.
6.2a As a result of evolutionary processes, there is a diversity of organisms and roles in ecosystems. This diversity of species increases the chance that at least some will survive in the face of large environmental changes. Biodiversity increases that stability of the ecosystem.
6.2b Biodiversity also ensures the availability of a rich variety of genetic material that may lead to future agricultural or medical discoveries with significant value to human kind. As diversity is lost, potential sources of these materials may be lost with it.
Total Pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 Minutes

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Cookie Genetics Lab (aligned with NGSS and New York State
Cookie Genetics Lab (aligned with NGSS and New York State
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