Students develop an understanding of the structural relationships between DNA, genes, chromosomes, and proteins in lessons that include videos, discussions, the creation of a skit, and a telephone game-style activity that demonstrates how small point mutations can have dramatic effects on proteins and thus the traits of an organism (MS-LS3-1). Students use the mutated traits from this activity in a culminating design challenge where they design and build a model of the organism exhibiting the mutated traits according to a set of criteria and constraints (MS-ETS1-2).
- Lesson 1: Students create and perform a skit that describes the structural relationship between DNA, genes, chromosomes, and proteins
- Lesson 2: Students identify point mutations in replicated gene sequences, associate them with organism traits, and discuss implications in terms of proteins
- Design Challenge: Student groups design and build models of an organism having mutated traits and compare their models against a set of criteria and constraints
The skit developed during Lesson 1 provides an opportunity to blend performing arts with science content that is foundational to understanding how mutations can result in altered proteins and traits in an organism (MS-LS3-1). Lesson 2 builds on the first lesson by allowing students to think critically about the significance of small changes to an organism’s gene sequence, leading from a molecular change to potential macroscopic trait changes in an organism. The Design Challenge blends these genetics concepts with the design process in that students incorporate mutated traits into a model built according to specific criteria and constraints as engineers do in their practice. The student groups build models of an agreed upon organism and follow the same general design rules, allowing them to make meaningful comparisons between group designs (MS-ETS1-2).