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Summer SAVY 2016 (Session 2, Day 3) – Genetics II (Mrs. Jones)

Posted by on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 in Grade 3, Grade 4, SAVY.

It was another great day in Genetics! Your students continue to amaze me with their ability to comprehend the various topics we are working through.

Before I delve into what we learned today, I want to take a moment to explain one of the key learning tools we are using – we call them “Crazy Creatures.” As the story goes, these creatures were discovered on Pluto during the recent passing of the New Horizons Spacecraft and NASA has tasked us with studying them. With the use of these Crazy Creatures we are able to better understand genetic concepts such as traits and heritability.

Yesterday we used our crazy creatures to understand how traits can be dominant and recessive and how that relates to the genotype. Today we learned that there are some exceptions to this rule in the form of “incomplete dominance” and “co-dominance”. We also learned that the heritability of traits relies on chance and probability. Working in groups, the students built Crazy Creatures by flipping a coin to determine the creature’s genotype (and, therefore, phenotype) for specific traits. We then mated our crazy creatures and used Punnett Squares to help us determine the probability of each genotype in the offspring. These students have been asking about Punnett Squares since Day 1 and I have to say, they pretty much ROCKED them!

This afternoon we learned about how natural selection and adaptation are important factors in genetics. Our students, armed with either a fork, spoon, knife or chopsticks, acted as “predators” and had to scavenge for the “prey” (beans). They were able to observe how traits can cause one predator to survive better than another, or how one prey is able to escape easier than others. The also observed how the environment can change these dynamics.  They then had to apply this to their Crazy Creature and adapt him/her to have increased chances of survival. I loved seeing your kids exercise their creativity! They built some creatures that could stand up to pretty much anything!