Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

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This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Genetics, and supports the standard of understanding that organisms transfer genetic material to their offspring and these genes affect the traits of the offspring. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of creative projects.


Pose the following discussion question to pairs of students or small groups. Allow time for them to discuss their predictions and hypotheses, encouraging them to use information observed in their daily life. Ask:

  • Why do you think that biological families of people, plants, or animals, tend to look alike or share characteristics? What causes people to look like their biological parents? What causes a litter of dogs to look like their parents?


  • Read aloud the description below the Movie player.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Have students read one of the two Related Reading articles. Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY
Students synthesize their ideas and express them through one or more of the following creative projects. They can work individually or collaborate.  

  • Make-a-Movie: Create a BrainPOP-style movie that describes what genes are and where they come from. 
  • Make-a-Map: Make a concept map identifying the roles of genes, DNA, and chromosomes. Use analogies like the ones in the movie to explain how genes are passed down from the parents to the offspring.
  • Creative Coding: Code a comic with two characters: a white-flowered pea plant and a purple-flowered pea plant. Have them describe how they will pass down their traits to their offspring.


Reflect: After sharing creative projects with each other, students reflect on what they’ve learned about genetics. Prompt them by asking questions such as: 

  • How did Gregor Mendel’s experience as a farmer help him discover how parents pass down traits to offspring?
  • How can scientists use their knowledge of genetics and DNA to create plants and animals with specific traits?
  • How can a genetic mutation end up being beneficial? When might mutations be harmful?

Assess: Wrap up the lesson with the Genetics Quiz.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments