Resource Image Heredity and Variation
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Type of Resource: SciPack
Average Rating: Rating
 based on 12 reviews
Publication Title: None
Grade Level: Elementary School, High School, Middle School


SciPacks are self-directed online learning experiences for teachers to enhance their understanding of a particular scientific concept and its related pedagogical implications for student learning. Unlimited expert content help via email and a final assessment both facilitate and document teacher learning.

The Heredity and Variation SciPack explores patterns of inheritance and discusses how offspring can look similar to their parents yet still possess differences within their genetic code. These differences can sometimes affect (positively or negatively) an offspring’s ability to survive and reproduce. Our ancestors used their observations of plants and animals to cultivate crops and domesticate animals. Now, through the use of technology and our current understanding of the DNA molecule, scientists can study individual genes and a gene’s impact on the inheritance of traits.

Ideas For Use


Additional Info

Science Discipline: (mouse over for full classification)
Scientists and inventors
Fields of science
Nucleic acids
Cellular structures
Protein synthesis
Asexual reproduction
Sexual reproduction
Analyzing data
Asking questions
Collecting data
Interpreting data
Scientific habits of mind
Using mathematics
Using scientific equipment
Using technology
Intended User Role:Elementary-Level Educator, High-School Educator, Middle-Level Educator, New Teacher, Teacher
Educational Issues:Inquiry learning, Professional development, Teacher content knowledge, Teacher preparation, Teaching strategies


Resource Format:
Size: KB
Installation Remarks:

National Standards Correlation

This resource has 35 correlations with the National Standards.  

This resource has 35 correlations with the National Standards.  

  • Life Science
    • Life cycles of organisms
      • Plants and animals closely resemble their parents. (K-4)
      • Many characteristics of an organism are inherited from the parents of the organism, but other characteristics result from an individual's interactions with the environment. Inherited characteristics include the color of flowers and the number of limbs of an animal. (K-4)
      • Other features, such as the ability to ride a bicycle, are learned through interactions with the environment and cannot be passed on to the next generation. (K-4)
    • Structure and function in living systems
      • Cells carry on the many functions needed to sustain life. They grow and divide, thereby producing more cells. (5-8)
    • Reproduction and heredity
      • Reproduction is a characteristic of all living systems; because no individual organism lives forever, reproduction is essential to the continuation of every species. (5-8)
      • Some organisms reproduce asexually (5-8)
      • Some organisms reproduce sexually. (5-8)
      • In many species, including humans, females produce eggs and males produce sperm. (5-8)
      • Plants also reproduce sexually--the egg and sperm are produced in the flowers of flowering plants. (5-8)
      • An egg and sperm unite to begin development of a new individual. That new individual receives genetic information from its mother (via the egg) and its father (via the sperm). (5-8)
      • Sexually produced offspring never are identical to either of their parents. (5-8)
      • Every organism requires a set of instructions for specifying its traits (5-8)
      • Heredity is the passage of these instructions from one generation to another. (5-8)
      • A human cell contains many thousands of different genes. (5-8)
      • Each gene carries a single unit of information. (5-8)
      • An inherited trait of an individual can be determined by one or by many genes, and a single gene can influence more than one trait. (5-8)
      • Hereditary information is contained in genes, located in the chromosomes of each cell. (5-8)
      • The characteristics of an organism can be described in terms of a combination of traits. (5-8)
      • Some traits are inherited and others result from interactions with the environment. (5-8)
    • The cell
      • Cells store and use information to guide their functions. (9-12)
      • The genetic information stored in DNA is used to direct the synthesis of the thousands of proteins that each cell requires. (9-12)
    • Molecular basis of heredity
      • In all organisms, the instructions for specifying the characteristics of the organism are carried in DNA, a large polymer formed from subunits of four kinds (A, G, C, and T). (9-12)
      • The chemical and structural properties of DNA explain how the genetic information that underlies heredity is both encoded in genes (as a string of molecular "letters") and replicated (by a templating mechanism). (9-12)
      • Each DNA molecule in a cell forms a single chromosome. (9-12)
      • Most of the cells in a human contain two copies of each of 22 different chromosomes. (9-12)
      • In human cells, there is a pair of chromosomes that determines sex: a female contains two X chromosomes and a male contains one X and one Y chromosome. (9-12)
      • Transmission of genetic information to offspring occurs through egg and sperm cells that contain only one representative from each chromosome pair. An egg and a sperm unite to form a new individual. (9-12)
      • The fact that the human body is formed from cells that contain two copies of each chromosome--and therefore two copies of each gene--explains many features of human heredity, such as how variations that are hidden in one generation can be expressed in the next. (9-12)
      • Changes in DNA (mutations) occur spontaneously at low rates. (9-12)
      • Some of the changes in DNA make no difference to the organism, whereas others can change cells and organisms. (9-12)
      • Only mutations in germ cells can create the variation that changes an organism's offspring. (9-12)
  • History and Nature of Science
    • Science as a human endeavor
      • Science and technology have been practiced by people for a long time.
      • Men and women have made a variety of contributions throughout the history of science and technology.
      • Doing science or engineering can be as simple as an individual conducting field studies or as complex as hundreds of people working on a major scientific question or technological problem. (9-12)
    • Nature of science
      • Scientists formulate and test their explanations of nature using observation, experiments, and theoretical and mathematical models. Those ideas are not likely to change greatly in the future. (5-8)

User Reviews

I hgihly recommed SciPacks
  Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA) on August 27, 2014
  The structure of the SciPacks really help me understand the underlying concepts that surround each topic. I had a lot of fear of science before learning about the NSTA Learning Center, and Initially, I was unsure of how well I'd grasp scientific concepts in a self-paced, online format. However, the carefully sequenced topics, interactive activities and simulations, in addition to the voice-over explanations work well together to help deepen my understanding in the content area. Especially valuable are the pedagogical implications and common student misconceptions. I feel a lot more knowledgeable about a subject after using a SciPack, and I highly recommend the Heredity and Variation SciPack to anyone needing to learn more about this topic.

Awesome SciPack
  Jessica Minton (Collierville, TN) on May 1, 2014
  I really enjoyed this SciPack!! It's full of great information, simulations and pictures. I really enjoyed this SciPack and it's worth your time.

  James (El Paso, TX) on March 31, 2014
  Great source for new or veteran teachers!!

An Excellent Resource
  Olukayode Banmeke (Riverdale, MD) on July 23, 2013
  Very detailed, incisive and with relevant examples on essential concepts.

Heredity and Variation SciPack Review
  Cris D on June 3, 2013
  This SciPack did an excellent job of challenging my current understanding of genetics and heredity. I teach Biology and thought that it would not require much thought. I was wrong. I would recommend this resource to anyone who would like either an in-depth refresher of modern genetics, or a deeper look at something they have a more limited background on.

Heredity and Variation
  James Johnson (Custer City, PA) on December 11, 2012
  I ran part of this SciPack to my students via Promethean Board and I was really amazed at how interested they were at the different activities and the interactive activities. Some of the kids I was having the hardest time reaching were the most interested! One kid who chronically sleeps through part of the class scooted up to the front and had numerous questions. Homerun!

Heredity and Variation
  James Johnson (Custer City, PA) on December 9, 2012
  Great Scipack. I learned a lot and the assessment questions were accurate and fairly matched to the subject matter. Really enjoyed the activity and learned some new stuff I had forgotten. I will use this in my class for sure!

  James Johnson (Custer City, PA) on December 8, 2012
  In the Graphic Representations lesson, the following line occurs: "Horizontal lines connecting males and females represent mating and verticle lines show offspring that result from the mating." I think verticle should be "vertical."

Heredity and Variation
  Marty Erskine on August 5, 2013
  Want to know more about how to introduce this topic? Very good resource to increase content knowledge and improve pedagogy too!

Basic Overview
  Roselle on March 8, 2013
  This was a great basic overview of heredity and variation. I feel it was geared more towards a middle school level. I would recommend that you seek additional support material if you are teaching high school genetics for the first time.

Good Very Basic Review
  Rebecca F (Elizabeth, WV) on December 6, 2012
  The Heredity and Variation SciPack covers the major topics that would be covered in a typical genetics unit in high school biology, though not in great depth. It serves as a nice refresher, but if you want to dig deeper you'll be disappointed.

Repetition is Key
  Andrea Gouldy (Granbury, TX) on October 21, 2012
  I found this SciPack to be very repetitive but still engaging. Each time the same topic was brought up it was introduced in a different way which helped me to grasp the information more quickly and really understand deeper what it was I was trying to learn.