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 represent four different human genes. Since we have two copies of all our genes, there are two of each pasta shape. Thus, in our model, each person has four pairs of genes, or eight genes total. Students track and record the passage of traits through three generations. This activity demonstrates that traits are passed down from parent to offspring, an equal number of traits are passed on from each parent, and children don’t look exactly like their brothers and sisters because they each receive different combination of genes.
This activity was originally written for upper elementary and middle school students, but the topic is only addressed in middle school NGSS standards.