Many years ago, and by many I mean almost 4, I wrote a piece about using Minecraft to explore sheep wool genetics. This was based on a meeting outside of school with several elementary age students. Last spring I was able to do a more extensive lesson in a 7th grade Science class. It was an ungraded enrichment activity for students to reinforce what they had learned about Mendelian genetics.
- The world was built by a student on her own Minecraft account, saved and imported into MinecraftEdu.
- In the spirit of pair programming, two students played on one computer.
- Below is my rough lesson outline.
- Here is a link to an article, (including a video) written for our school newsletter and website.
Planning and Lesson
- Parental P1, F1, F2, F3, offspring
- Cross, crossing
- Phenotype, genotype, (genes, alleles)
- Dominant, recessive
- Pure (true) breeding,
- Mendelian inheritance
- Incomplete dominance
- Mutation? Randomly appearing new phenotype
- 3:1 ratio- probability
- 10 min. for sheep to grow to adulthood and become “fertile” so to speak.
- Mate sheep
- Build fences- to pen in progeny and separate from adults.
- Create signs or write info/books
- Students were required to clearly identify by signage within the game;
- P1, F1, F2 etc…
- Documentation of crosses being performed
- Anything else they can think of
Procedures and Questions to Guide Experimentation:
Each pair of students assigned one phenotype color sheep:
1. Is the trait pure (true) breeding? They figure out what to test? How many times?
- Yes→ What is the genotype? BB or bb, for brown wool.
- No→ Is there an inheritance pattern? What is the probability of each F1 phenotype? Could it be true breeding and just a mutation? Depends…
- If 100 crosses and get 1 new phenotype→ indicative of what?
- Is that phenotype dominant over the P phenotype
2. Cross two true breeding strains (colors of wool). Is there dominance?
- If so, all F1 should be the same color as one parent (the dominant parent).
- If all F1 are one color- what is the genotypye of F1?
- All F1 are heterozygous if mendelian
- Don’t give Q3. Instead, Ask “What is a logical next question and how would you test this?”
3. What happens when cross two potentially heterozygous F1?
- Does the recessive phenotype reappear?
- What is the ratio of dominant to recessive phenotypes in F2?
- If 3:1 then follows mendelian inheritance patterns.
4. Incomplete dominance/blended or codominant/both phenotypes, blotchy.
5. Test crosses:
- Cross F2 (recessive- homozygous recessive) x F1 (heterozygous)
- If Mendelian genetics what should be probability? 1:1 (50 Bb: 50 bb)
- Cross F2 (recessive- homozygous recessive) x F2 (homozygous)
- Should be 100% recessive phenotype.