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The Molecular Basis of Heredity (9-12)

* In all organisms, the instructions for the characteristics of the organism are carried in DNA, a large molecule. Each DNA molecule in a cell forms a single chromosome.   * Most of the cells in a human contain two copies of each of 22 different chromosomes (one copy from your mother, and one copy from your father).  An additional pair of chromosomes determines the sex, male or female.   * Changes in DNA (mutations) occur spontaneously at low rates.  Some changes make no difference to the organism, and other can change the organism.  (NSES, 1996)

In the rectangle above, you will find the fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard. Below you will find a list of recommended "learning tools" for this standard. All links are in yellow, just click the link. Numbers are for reference only. Use our "Tell a Friend" feature, at the bottom,  to send this page to a friend! 


Innovative web design, compelling interactives, and a great story to tell make DNAi a very special web site. No matter what you want to learn about the DNA and the genetic revolution, there is something quality for you here. This site was developed by the Dolan DNA Leaning Center and Cold Spring Harbor Lab. A spectacular piece of work!


John Kyrk has produced some of the most incredible animations for biology and biochemistry. They are truly groundbreaking in the way they display information about the most important molecules and processes of life. The "learning tool" John has created is called  Cell Biology Animation, just click to visit this wondrous work.


DNA From the Beginning is a “learning tool” that covers all aspects of genetics from classical genetics through molecules of genetics to genetic organization and control.  Each of the 41 subtopics is supported by text, animations, pictures, audio/video, a bio of a famous scientist in that field, a problem/quiz, and additional links.  This is essentially a genetics course online! This tool comes to us from the Dolan DNA Learning Center at Cold Spring Harbor Lab.


The name of this wonderful "learning tool" is called Mendel's Peas. Parts 1 and 2 (top menus, left to right) demonstrate basic principles of meiosis, fertilization, and inheritance using the same pea traits that Mendel studied. Part 3 is an application of those principles called The Princess and the Wrinkled Peas. The tool is brought to us by BioLogica. Shockwave is required. 


The Genetic Science Learning Center is an amazing web site. It is filled with conceptually clear and timely information and explanations. Their mission is to "help people understand how genetics affects their lives and society". This incredible resource is from the University of Utah. Check it out the interactive Biotechniques Laboratory.


This "learning tool" is called DNA Workshop. An embryonic cell divides again and again. Where there was one cell there are two, then four, then eight,... Each holds all the genetic information needed to create a human being. How, exactly, do these cells make copies of themselves? The answers to these questions are DNA replication and protein synthesis. This is brought to us by PBS's excellent series, A Science Odyssey. Shockwave required.


The name of this "learning tool" is called Gel Electrophoresis, one of the most important tools in DNA research. This visual lesson is conceptually clear and exceptionally well designed. Once you get to the site,  click the 'Narrated" button to see the animation. This tool was produced by Sumanas, Inc. This company has created some of the most well executed animations for life science and statistics.


The name of this simple and creative "learning tool" is called Genotype to Phenotype. The tool explores the relationship between genotype & phenotype, using both sex-linked & autosomal dominant & recessive traits. By manipulating alleles (genotype), you create corresponding changes in the dragon's physical appearance (phenotype). The tool is brought to us by BioLogica.  Shockwave is required. 


DNA-The Double Helix is a fun and well designed "learning tool". You can make copies of DNA molecules and find out which organism the genetic material belongs to! This tool comes to us from Nobelprize.org, they feature many learning tools that relate to concepts central to topics in medicine, chemistry, physics, peace, literature, and economics. It is a wonderful site!


In Create a DNA Fingerprint, students learn about DNA fingerprints and how they are used. Students must solve a mystery, which involves creating a DNA fingerprint in a virtual lab and comparing this fingerprint to those of the suspects. This “learning tool” comes to us from NOVA, a leader in science television programming.


Become a DNA Detective with this clever and well designed "learning tool". Can you solve the crime? Find out how DNA profiling can make sense of a crime scene and help I.D. a culprit from a list of suspects. Learn the DNA Basics, investigate the Crime Scene and experiment in the Lab and become a DNA Detective! This great site is presented by TryScience.org from the New York Hall of Science.  Shockwave is required. 


This “learning tool” comes to us from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute .  The Transgenic Fly Lab is a virtual lab. When you click on the link it will take you to the BioInteractive part of the HHMI, just click on the Transgenic Fly to start.  It allows students to make transgenic flies and then use those flies to study circadian rhythms and genetics.  Shockwave is required.


The name of this exciting "learning tool" is called Putting DNA to Work. This web site from the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences is focused around interactives that explore the DNA Sequence, DNA and Criminal Justice, Improving Crops, and Inherited and Infectious Diseases. These are very clear conceptual tools for your students.


This “learning tool” comes to us from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute .  The Bacterial ID Lab is a virtual lab. When you click on the link it will take you to the BioInteractive part of the HHMI, just click on the Bacterial ID Lab to start.   It allows students to isolate, copy, and sequence bacterial DNA and then identify the bacteria.  Shockwave is required.


The Biology Project is another wondrous web site. Although a more general approach than the other two web sites that we feature on the page it is worth investigating. This online resource is filled with clever, well designed work. Check out their activities on Onion Root Tips, Karyotyping, and Immunology. We strongly recommend this site produced by the University of Arizona.




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