Heredity and Variation: Inheritance

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Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the first of three Science Objects in the Heredity and Variation SciPack. It explores the historical perspective and experiments of Mendel.

Sexual reproduction results in the continuity of species accompanied with a great deal of variation in physical traits. One familiar observation is that offspring are very much like their parents but still show some variation— differing somewhat from their parents and from one another. People have long been curious about heredity, using even the most primitive understanding of inheritance to cultivate desirable traits in domesticated species. In the 1800s, Gregor Mendel took his observations of heredity and variation to new heights through carefully designed and executed breeding experiments that generated repeatable inheritance patterns. Mendel developed a model for explaining the patterns he observed, describing discrete units or “particles,” which both segregate and assort independently of one another during inheritance. This model offered a foundational explanation for how variation is generated through sexual reproduction. Although Mendel’s model over-simplified how traits are inherited and expressed, it set the stage for the discoveries of chromosomes and genes from which contemporary genetics grew.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Explain how domestication of plants and animals produced an early understanding of inheritance.
  • Use Mendel’s model to explain patterns of inheritance represented in graphic form (for example, data tables, histograms, etc.).
  • Identify the conditions required for an inheritance pattern to be explained correctly by Mendel’s model.
  • Use data representing patterns of inheritance to support the idea that some observable traits are defined by discrete units of inheritance that segregate and assort independently of one another during inheritance.

  • Elementary
  • Middle
  • High

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Reviews (8)
  • on Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:25 PM

The Science Object one familiar observation is that offspring are very much like their parents but still show some variation— differing somewhat from their parents and from one another. I feel this topic is really interesting to talk about and to know. I like the idea of using data representing patterns of inheritance to support the idea that some observable traits, to see what students understand and know. I likes this article I feel it is good for students to learn and understand the different traits and where they came from and wanting to know all the information about their heredity.

Madison Rost
Madison Rost

  • on Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:32 PM

This Science Object is a fantastic resource! Not only is the material complete and very detailed but it shows the material in a variety of ways. Since people learn in different ways and may have some special learning requirements I find it extremely helpful for the material to be presented in text, audio, interactive simulations as well as having questions imbedded to check understanding. This would definitely be a good refresher for a teacher before teaching but they could also take some of these resources and use them in the classroom as well!

Olivia  (Lancaster, OH)
Olivia (Lancaster, OH)

  • on Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:42 PM

This is a really great resource for teachers who want to refresh their knowledge on a topic in a few hours. It includes everything that you need to know, with audio, text, and images all together. There are also a few quizzes embedded and a quiz at the end to make sure you understood everything. There is a glossary that has easy to understand definitions, which are helpful in the classroom as well. Many of the images and information could also be used in the classroom. It is very easy for teachers to use this resource to refresh on a topic quickly and thoroughly.

Elle M  (Hudson, OH)
Elle M (Hudson, OH)

  • on Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:09 PM

This is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn or refresh their memory about heredity. I really like the format of this because it allows you to see each of the topics and you can bounce around to the parts that you may need the most review on. I found the interactive parts to be helpful too. While going through this, I couldn't help to think, this may be a great resource to allow students complete. When going over this topic in the class room, I found many students had a hard time understanding chromosomes and how they are passed on from generation to generation and this science objective did a great job explaining it along with useful interactive games.

Derrick Walter  (Kent, OH)
Derrick Walter (Kent, OH)

  • on Tue Jul 05, 2016 2:15 PM

I enjoyed refreshing my knowledge base on heredity and variation. This science object gave the information in an easy to follow self-paced format.

Angela West
Angela West

  • on Tue Sep 02, 2014 7:30 AM

I really enjoy Science Objects. In 1-3 hours, the Heredity and Variation: Inheritance Science Object will help me re-learn, refresh, or learn for the first time some critical science concepts I will have to know to obtain my Science Educator credentials. I appreciate that I can complete them at my own pace, and that, if used as park of a SciPack, I have access to a content expert to go to for help. The NSTA Learning Center Science Objects are very beneficial!

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Sat May 04, 2013 9:51 PM

I found this Science Object to be an excellent review of Mendelian genetics, even if you are already well-versed in the topic. Not only did it review the topic, but it explained some concepts in a language and phrasing that my students would understand. This gave me new insights into teaching these concepts. I have my "standard" way that I teach Mendelian genetics, however, I always have a handful of students who fail to grasp the concept. This Science Object presented the information in a way that those students will hopefully understand better. I plan to model my teaching/reteaching of this topic around the format of this "S.O." in order to better help my students. In addition, I loved the interactive portions of the S.O. and wish I knew where they came from/if they are available to teachers because I would love to use them in my freshmen biology courses.

Mary Morgan
Mary Morgan

  • on Thu Nov 01, 2018 7:02 PM

This is a well put together resource, and would serve excellently for use in the classroom. It provides a detailed and interactive history of the development of the genetic model and how varying alleles affect the expression of different types of traits. In addition, it has an an auditory read through of the text to assist any student who has difficulty reading. My only complaint is the use of Adobe Flash to run the interactive diagrams and other functions it contains. In 2020, Adobe will be ending their support of the Adobe Flash program, at which point any online program utilizing it - like many of the science objects found here on NSTA - will become unusable. I strongly urge that these features be upgraded to make use of another digital programming software, such as HTML5. Otherwise, many of the features found within will become obsolete for its users, not allowing users to utilize the full learning experience.

Andrew J  (Munroe Falls, OH)
Andrew J (Munroe Falls, OH)

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