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  • Middle School

    Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism. MS-LS3-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Develop and use a model to describe why asexual reproduction results in offspring with identical genetic information and sexual reproduction results in offspring with genetic variation. MS-LS3-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

Science and Engineering Practices

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections


  • RST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-LS3-1), (MS-LS3-2)
  • RST.6-8.4 - Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6–8 texts and topics. (MS-LS3-1), (MS-LS3-2)
  • RST.6-8.7 - Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table). (MS-LS3-1), (MS-LS3-2)
  • SL.8.5 - Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest. (MS-LS3-1), (MS-LS3-2)


  • 6.SP.B.5 - Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context. (MS-LS3-2)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (MS-LS3-2)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  •   This news story describes a phenomenon that illustrates how traits are randomly passed from generation to generation. A photo in the story shows two young women whose physical traits are so different from one another that most people would ...

  • In this hands-on activity, students are investigating the phenomenon of human inheritance. They are seeking to explain why each person, except for identical twins, is unique in their appearance. The activity uses four differently shaped pasta to repr ...

  • This is one of 25 assessment probes from the book,” Uncovering Student Ideas in Life Science, Volume 1: 25 New Formative Assessment Probes”, by Page Keeley and co-authors. All assessment probes in this collection are aligned to a particul ...

  • This is one of 25 assessment probes from the book,” Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, Volume 2: 25 More Formative Assessment Probes”, by Page Keeley and co-authors. All assessment probes in this collection are aligned to a particular s ...

  • In this activity, students will simulate how genes on chromosomes are passed from generation to generation while exploring color vision and its genetic history in humans and other primates. Students will explore the sex-linked trait of color vision a ...

  • Lab 15. Mutations in Genes: How Do Different Types of Mutations in Genes Affect the Function of an Organism? is one lab from the NSTA Press book entitled Argument-Driven Inquiry in Life Science. This lab introduces students to the transfer of genetic ...

  • This activity allows students to simulate the processes of meiosis and fertilization as they investigate the inheritance of multiple genes. The simulation also allows the student to see the  cause and effect relationship of gene transmission fro ...

  • The Sesame Street Characters are used to: 1. Create a gene map for a particular Sesame Street character. 2. Move the resulting chromosomes through the steps of meiosis to produce the possible gametes of that individual character. 3. Choose a spouse a ...

  • Students create and decode DNA for man’s best friend to observe how variations in DNA lead to the inheritance of different traits. Strips of paper that represent DNA are randomly selected and used to assemble the dog's DNA. Students read the DNA and ...

  • This hands-on activity is a simulation of how mutations can affect survival skills in animals. The objective of this activity is to understand and observe how mutations can be useful, harmful or neutral adaptations. Students will also observe how mut ...

  • The learner will trace the family history of a horse named Junior as they explore why he has the characteristic traits that he does. The lesson includes an interview with a horse breeder and demonstrates how traits are passed from generation to gener ...

  • Students work in pairs to compare five aspects of an organism that reproduces sexually, asexually, or both sexually and asexually. The activity comes with a chart for the students to fill out and with information sheets on twelve organisms. As a clas ...

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Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.