Genes & Traits for Teachers of Grades 5-12
Published in 2015, this comprehensive professional development course for grades 5–12 science teachers provides all the necessary ingredients for building a scientific way of thinking in teachers and students, focusing on science content, inquiry, and literacy.
Session 1: Traits
When we observe an organism, typically the first thing we make note of are its visible traits — cows with black and white coats, chickens with white feathers, and grass with green, slender blades. The closer we study organisms the more traits we can observe. This session explores the nature of traits, where they come from, and how they may change over time.
Session 2: Gene Expression
DNA is often described as the blueprint for life. When you think about DNA, a picture of a double helix may likely pop into in your head. However, how you get from the DNA to a trait is a complex story with many twists and turns. This session takes a closer look at the structure and function of DNA and explores its many interactions in an organism.
Session 3: Cellular Reproduction
Cells are formed, live, and die. Some cells are able to produce offspring before they die. All single-celled organisms are able to do this, as are many of the cell types of multicellular organisms. This session explores the reproduction of organisms with an eye towards connecting how the process of reproduction affects diversity from generation to generation.
Session 4: Reproduction of Organisms
Nature has a way of perpetuating itself. Trees beget trees. Dogs beget dogs. Bees beget bees. If this didn’t happen, all species would soon become extinct because organisms don’t live forever. At least some individuals within a species produce offspring. This session explores the reproduction of organisms and what happens with traits from one generation to the next.
Session 5: Genetic Diversity
The diversity of life is astounding. Scientists estimate that there are 240,000 different species of flies alone. Among each of these species, individuals have diversity in their traits. Interestingly, over time the frequency traits appear within a species can change. This session explores how genetic traits can change from generation to generation and how environmental pressures play a role in which traits perpetuate.
GENES & TRAITS COURSE OVERVIEW (PDF)
Download a printable version of the session-by-session course overview.
GENES & TRAITS VIDEOS & SIMULATIONS (PDF)
Download the most up to date reference sheet for all videos and simulations used in this course.