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    Inheritance and Variation of Traits

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Use a model to illustrate the role of cellular division (mitosis) and differentiation in producing and maintaining complex organisms. HS-LS1-4

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Ask questions to clarify relationships about the role of DNA and chromosomes in coding the instructions for characteristic traits passed from parents to offspring. HS-LS3-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Make and defend a claim based on evidence that inheritable genetic variations may result from: (1) new genetic combinations through meiosis, (2) viable errors occurring during replication, and/or (3) mutations caused by environmental factors. HS-LS3-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  4. Apply concepts of statistics and probability to explain the variation and distribution of expressed traits in a population. HS-LS3-3

    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

Asking Questions and Defining Problems

Asking questions and defining problems in 9–12 builds on grades K–8 experiences and progresses to formulating, refining, and evaluating empirically testable questions and design problems using models and simulations.

Developing and Using Models

Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed world(s).

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to using appropriate and sufficient evidence and scientific reasoning to defend and critique claims and explanations about the natural and designed world(s). Arguments may also come from current scientific or historical episodes in science.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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.11-12.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account. (HS-LS3-1), (HS-LS3-2)
  • RST.11-12.9 - Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible. (HS-LS3-1)
  • SL.11-12.5 - Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest. (HS-LS1-4)
  • WHST.9-12.1 - Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content. (HS-LS3-2)


  • HSF-BF.A.1 - Write a function that describes a relationship between two quantities (HS-LS1-4)
  • HSF-IF.C.7 - Graph functions expressed symbolically and show key features of the graph, by hand in simple cases and using technology for more complicated cases. (HS-LS1-4)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (HS-LS3-2), (HS-LS3-3)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (HS-LS1-4)

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 computer simulation allows students to investigate the relationship between DNA sequences and protein structures.  Additionally, this interactive activity allows students to make sense of the relationship between DNA structure and types of ...

  • This resource is designed as a supporting resource for the HHMI 2013 Holiday Lecture on Science entitled, Medicine in the Genomic Era.  The interactive animation illustrates how two different cell lineages are formed during development and that ...

  • Cell Division and Cancer Risk is one of a series of Data Point resources from HHMI Biointeractive. Data Points engage students in analyzing and interpreting data from primary literature in the biological sciences. The resources are intended to provid ...

  • This two-minute video provides brief background on the use of zebrafish as a model in studying animal development, before showing a time-lapse sequence of a fertilized zebrafish egg developing into a larva.  The video includes some annotations t ...

  • This resource is an article from the January 2016 issue of The Science Teacher.  The unit focuses on an essential question:  How do Siamese cats develop their coloration?  Students develop explanations by making connections among ...

  • In this HHMI Biointeractive hands-on activity, students use photos of stickleback fish to analyze the results of genetic crosses between fish with different traits.  Students are introduced to the activity through a suggested video: "Studen ...

  •   In this activity, students apply their knowledge of  models  of inheritance (dominant-recessive, co-dominance, incomplete dominance, multiple alleles, and sex-linked) to determine how fruit flies inherit a specific trait. The guid ...

  • This is one of 30 lessons from the NSTA Press book Scientific Argumentation in Biology. The lesson engages students in an argumentation cycle by posing a question on the influence of the environment (light) on the genotype or phenotype of the tobacco ...

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

  • In this activity students analyze a family’s pedigrees to make a claim based on evidence about mode of inheritance of a lactose intolerance trait, determine the most likely inheritance pattern of a trait, and analyze variations in DNA to make a claim ...

  • This article describes a 90-minute real-world lesson in which students use online bioinformatics tools to compare gene sequences between one wild-type and one type of eight hypothetical mutant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) strains. Using bioinform ...

  • This lab activity introduces students to the process of meiosis at the chromosomal level. The guiding question for the investigation is: How does the process of meiosis reduce the number of chromosomes in reproductive cells? Students develop an exp ...

  • In this activity, students learn and apply the principles of Mendelian inheritances by virtual experimentation with Drosophilia melanogaster (fruit fly). Students make hypotheses for monohybrid, dihybrid and sex-linked traits and test their hypothese ...

  • In this lab activity from the book Argument-Driven Inquiry in Biology, students use an online simulation (www.fastplants.org/legacy/genetics/Introductions/two-trait.htm) to cross Wisconsin Fast Plants with different traits and identify inheritance pa ...

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  • Extra! Extra! Hot off the presses! Presenting newly released and FREE classroom-ready resources and strategies for incorporating infectious diseases and viruses in your classroom. All of these HHMI BioInteractive resources are aligned with the NGSS, ...

  • Students will compare and contrast methods of selective plant breeding, describe the scientific process of creating a genetically modified plant, compare genetically modified soybean seeds to conventional soybean seeds, describe the impact weeds have...

  • These are the Slide for "Beyond Earlobes and Tongue Rolling"

  • In this activity, students calculate temperatures during a time in the geologic record when rapid warming occurred using a well known method called 'leaf-margin analysis.' Students determine the percentage of the species that have leaves with smooth ...

  • In this lab activity, students use a chemical indicator (bromothymol blue) to detect the presence of carbon dioxide in animal and plant respiration and in the burning of fossil fuels and its absence in the products of plant photosynthesis. After com...

  • In this interactive, students explore, at their own pace, how global climate change may affect health issues. Issues include airborne diseases, developmental disorders, mental health disorders, vector-borne diseases and waterborne diseases.

  • In this activity from NOAA's Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, learners investigate how methane hydrates might have been involved with the Cambrian explosion.

  • This overview provides a sequence of learning activities to help students understand that proteins and DNA are not just abstract concepts in biology textbooks, but rather crucial components of our bodies that affect functions and characteristics that...

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