The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology revolves around the expression of genes into a workable protein. This activity will allow you to see common misconceptions in traits that are often thought and taught to be single gene traits, but in fact are not; it will show you through the fun use of animals, true single gene traits, and it will involve interaction and pair sharing activities.
Genes are the units that determine inherited characteristics such as hair color and blood type. Genes are segments of DNA molecules that determine the structure of protein that our cells make. The sequence of nitrogen bases (“letters”) in the nucleotides determines the sequence of amino acids in proteins and thus the structure of proteins.
By the end of this activity, the student should be able to demonstrate an understanding that (a) the genotype of an individual influences the phenotype (b) the dominant phenotype, through the possession of a single allele often can mask the recessive allele, (b) some genes affect the expression of other genes at other locations (epistasis) – even masking the expression, (c) the environment can affect the expression of genes (epigenetics), and (d) demonstrate mathematically the probability of genetically similar individuals.
In addition to the concepts described and followed in the activity, the students get to determine their hidden traits such as which useless superpower do they possess and latent Star Wars phenotype will they express in another.
TIME REQUIRED: 80-90 minutes total in order to work through single gene trait exercise and answer follow-up questions.
This can be broken up into two (2) 45 minutes class periods. Either 10-15 minutes instruction at the end of class and homework to do the research in part 1 and 2. Then the following class period 30-45 minutes of class time to gather the class data set and answer the follow-up questions. Or use both class periods for them to work in class. It really depends on internet access or access to photos of cats that are available.
Or one single block period of 90 minutes.
ADDITIONAL SUPPLIES NEEDED: computers with internet access to research phenotypes of cats (or at least a classroom set of photos of cats), access to research links provided in document (or you can print out ahead of time and provide these to students), calculators