Fellow Science Teachers,
My kids LOVED this activity and I got major props from my department head and principal for the kinds of thinking my kids were doing because of it!
In Part 1, students create monsters based on randomly selected sections of DNA.
In Part 2, their monsters become parents and they can set up family trees. This starts to demonstrate how 2 offspring of parents can look completely different even though they came from the same parents.
In Part 3, students create grandchildren and assemble a large pedigree that shows how ten traits can be passed down through generations. Sometimes traits can "skip"
a generation and that phenomena is clearly demonstrated in this lab.
As kids finish creating their first creature I really felt the excitement build in the room as they made so many off the cuff observations and exciting comments about the activity as a whole. This has been a very rewarding activity that demonstrated the big ideas of heredity and genetics in a way that middle school kids love!
In this lab, the middle school learner will create a model that clearly show how DNA can be decoded into alleles that are paired in genes which control physical phenotypes in living things. Mutations can play a role in a random change of phenotypes which can result in beneficial, detrimental, or neutral mutations. The students will then use random chance to determine which chromosome (and therefore traits) will be passed on. Students will create the parent and offspring organism and be able to visually see HOW dominant and recessive traits get passed from generation to generation.
I personally created EVERYTHING in this lab and am VERY proud of the way it came out. ALL pictures were hand-drawn, digitized, and modified on a computer to assemble the worksheets you see. I probably spent a cumulative 30 hours making everything look as good as it can be. I persuaded my 8th grade team to do this activity with their students. Including my own, that makes about 360 students. They gave me feedback throughout the project and I modified it as I went. What you are getting is more like a 3.0 version than an alpha. Please weigh the price against a no-prep, week-long (or more), fully planned and aligned NGSS lab that will have your admins impressed. Your kids will love this just as much as mine did!
This lab also hits DCI MS-LS4-4 to a lesser extent, but it's worth mentioning.
I also include a Crosscutting Concept X Science & Engineering Practices Matrix detailing which ones I think are covered by which step and question in the lab. Evaluators love that stuff.