Genetics of Sesame Street Characters

NSTA Science Scope 2/1/2001 By Susan Raye
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Project , Model , Activity
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



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 and diagram the genetic crosses that would produce two different children, by using Punnett Squares. 4. Draw family portraits based on the genotypes of each individual, both offspring and parents. This can be used as an individual or group project; lasting from a week to a month depending on your extensions.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 6
  • Middle School
Access Restrictions

Available by subscription - The right to view and/or download material, often for a set period of time, by way of a financial agreement between rights holders and authorized users.

Performance Expectations

MS-LS3-2 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.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using models such as Punnett squares, diagrams, and simulations to describe the cause and effect relationship of gene transmission from parent(s) to offspring and resulting genetic variation.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This is an excellent lesson for building an understanding of sexual reproduction by both using and developing the learners own models. The author develops the unit through questioning techniques to build understanding; adding the vocabulary as needed. This lesson would be a great culminating activity after the learner has been introduced to "Types of Reproduction" and asexual reproduction with an understanding of genetic variation found in sexual reproduction. Many varieties of this lesson exist that put more vocabulary, and background information in the lesson. Here is an example:

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
This resources models fertilization, meiosis, punnett squares, and gene maps.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
This resource explores genes, alleles, chromosomes, heredity and the different ways that alleles can interact: dominant, recessive, and incompletely dominant. It builds an understanding of how parents can have offspring with many genetic variations.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
This resource helps students see a definite relationship between parents genetic traits and the variety of traits found in their offspring due to the process of meiosis necessary for sexual reproduction.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: There is a strong correlation of the three dimensions of NGSS. However, the resource only addresses sexual reproduction not asexual reproduction with partial alignment of the fact that sexual reproduction provides variety. Elements of the disciplinary core are significantly addressed. Use of the lesson provides an opportunity for hands-on exploration performance expectation and the crosscutting concept of patterns can be used to describe cause and affect relationship. Grade‐appropriate elements of the science and engineering practice(s), disciplinary core idea(s), and crosscutting concept(s), work together to support students in three‐dimensional learning.

  • Instructional Supports: The activity engages students in the practices that work together with disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts to support students in making sense of Punnett Squares, Gene Maps, and other genetic tools. The resource provides guidance in facilitating the lesson but needs the educator to have introduced general genetics background information. This should be thought of as a cumulative lesson or can be developed into a Project Based Unit.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Formative assessments of three-dimensional learning are embedded throughout the instruction.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: - none -