Genetics: Reebop Babies

Grade 11 Genetics
Focus Question: Why do you look the way you do?

Diagnostic: Begin by asking students to answer these questions independently, then discuss in groups.

  1. Why do you look the way you do?
  2. Does a child with red hair have to have red-haired parents? Why or why not?
  3. A mom and dad have freckles. Will their child have freckles too? Why or why not
  4. Why would one kind of trait (like a certain hair color) be more common than others?

Encourage students to share their ideas (snowball activity, think-pair-share, placemat…etc.) and allow students to keep adding to this as they learn more about genetics throughout the unit. 

Grouping: Ask students to pair up. Give each pair an envelope containing a set of pre-made “chromosomes” for either a father or mother. Ask students to make a group of four with another pair who has a parent of the opposite sex. 

Learning Activity: Reebop Babies
– Envelopes
– Colored Construction Paper (for chromosomes)
– Colored pencils or markers 
– Large Marshmellows (“body segments”)
– Push Pins (“humps”)
– Pip-cleaners (“Tails”
– Small iron nails (“Antennas”)

1. Tell students that they have received an envelope with the “code” in it for a reebop parent. Ask students to lay out the pairs of chromosomes (each set of chromosomes will be one color) from largest to smallest. Give them a copy of the key/legend so they can determine the genotype (code) and phenotype (what it actually looks like) of the parents. 

2. Have students fill out a chart with headings for phenotype and genotype, and get them to draw what their parent looks like. 
3. Students predict what their baby will look like based on the genotypes and phenotypes of the parents.
4. Once predictions have been made, the two pairs of students randomly pull out chromosomes from the “dad” and “mom” envelopes until they have a full set required to build the baby. 
5. Build the baby with the materials provided! 

Why I like this activity: Reebop babies are a fun hands-on, exploratory activity that can be used to introduce students to the genetics unit in grade 11 biology. You can start the unit with this lesson by using the appropriate terminology (chromosomes, genotype, phenotype…etc.) without having to explain what each of those terms mean. Just be sure to give students enough information either on the hand-outs, or through visual cues (e.g. the envelop containing construction paper “chromosomes”) so they have enough working knowledge to complete the required activities. This same activity can used to introduce concepts later on in the unit such as errors in meiosis, punnett squares, dominance…etc. 

Original lesson idea by Dr. Cathy Christie. 

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