Genetics and Heredity self-paced online course with labs

DNA—deoxyribonucleic acid—is an essential biological molecule found in every living thing on the planet.  Most people  understand that DNA contains the information necessary to make living things and that it is passed down from parents to offspring.  In my first course on DNA (DNA Basics, Gene Expression, and DNA Mutations), students learned how DNA genes are expressed within the cell through the processes of transcription and translation.  They also learned how DNA mutations can directly lead to diseases such as cancer, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, and Tay-Sachs disease by producing faulty proteins. But how does DNA—found inside each of our cells—manifest itself as observable traits?  How does our DNA control the color of our eyes, how tall we are, or if we are right or left handed?  And if DNA is passed down from parent to child, how can two parents with brown hair and brown eyes  have a child with red hair and blue eyes?  Is it possible for two parents with normal vision to  have a child who is color-blind?  Do you know how to predict the outcome of such genetic crosses?

In this course, students will learn how cellular DNA is expressed as observable traits.  They will learn about gene alleles and how dominant and recessive alleles operate.  Students will learn the difference between genotype and phenotype as they investigate what traits they and their family members express.  The steps of meiosis are reviewed, and students will understand how this special form of cell division leads to genetic diversity in offspring.  Students will learn about Mendelian inheritance and how to use Punnett Squares to predict the outcome of monohybrid and dihybrid crosses.  Additionally, students will learn about patterns of non-Mendelian inheritance including sex-linked traits, the inheritance of mitochondrial DNA, incomplete dominance, codominance, and polygenic traits.    Throughout the course, students will be exposed to many real-life examples of genetics in action as they learn about the genetics of calico cats, human blood types, how hemophilia was spread throughout the royal houses of Europe, and much more.  Periodic quizzes will test students’ understanding throughout the course.  Students will increase their understanding while performing multiple practice problems and as they create their own family pedigree.  Instructions for several optional lab experiments are also included.

To print a copy of the Scope and Sequence, click here

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