Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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Rock, Paper, Scissors - Dominant and Recessive Traits
3 - 5
1 - 2 hours
Students will explore how dominant and recessive traits are expressed and learn how knowledge of heredity is important to agriculture.
Activity 1: Rock, Paper, Scissors
- Rock, Paper, Scissors Recording Chart 1 per pair of students
- Plant Features activity sheet, 1 per pair of students
- Crayons and scissors
- 5 gene pool containers made from shoe boxes or baskets and labeled “Leaves,” “Fruit,” “Flowers,” “Roots,” and “Stems”
- What Does It Look Like? activity sheet, 1 per student
Activity 2: Mixing Inherited Traits
- 6 colors of glitter: red, gold, blue, sliver, green, and magenta
- 8 small paper plates
- Plant Parent 1 Cards, copied and cut apart to provide 1 per student
- Chenille stems cut into 3-inch pieces, 1 piece per student
- Glitter Plant Trait Key handout
- Glittering Offspring activity sheet, 1 per student
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
- What Does it Look Like? Activity Sheet
- Plant Parent 1 Cards
- Glitter Plant Trait Key
- Plant Features Activity Sheet
- Rock, Paper, Scissors Recording Chart
- Glittering Offspring Activity Sheet
dominant gene: a gene that can hide the effect of a recessive gene
recessive gene: a gene whose expression can be hidden
traits: distinguishing characteristics or qualities
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Gregor Mendel used a paintbrush to transfer pollen from one pea plant to another to make his crosses.1
- Almost 90% of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators for fertilization.2
- 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators.2
- 99% of those animal pollinators are insects like beetles, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies, and moths.2
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Have students list words that are associated with the terms dominant (dominated, dominating, dominate, domain, dominance, predominant, dominator, etc.) and recessive (recessively, recede, recess, receded, receding, recessional, recession, etc.).
- Discuss the difference between dominating a situation and receding from a situation and provide examples. For instance, if two people wanted to climb up the ladder of a slide at the same time, one person might dominate the situation by yelling or pushing the other person out of the way. Another person might recede by walking away and playing somewhere else. The receding person may play at the slide later when there is less competition (similar to recessive genes). Role-play a few situations, such as lining up after recess or participating in class discussions.
- Ask students if they can think of a connection between these two words (dominant and recessive) and genetics. Allow students to guess and to offer their ideas using their prior knowledge.
- Explain that in genetics that are some traits that are dominant over others. Today they will be learning about these traits.
Activity 1: Rock, Paper, Scissors
- Describe the game Rock, Paper, Scissors using the words dominant and recessive. Explain that rock dominates scissors, scissors dominate paper, and paper dominates rock.
- Divide students into pairs, and provide each pair with a copy of the Rock, Paper, Scissors Recording Chart.
- Instruct the students to play Rock, Paper Scissors ten times and record the outcome of each round on the chart.
- Discuss the outcomes that students observed. Are there ways of making certain one person will always dominate (win)?
- Discuss dominant and recessive in terms of genes and heredity.
- Provide each pair of students with a copy of the Plant Features activity sheet to color and cut out. When finished, ask students to place the features into the prepared gene pool containers (boxes, envelopes, etc.) labeled “Leaves,” “Fruit,” “Flowers,” “Roots,” and “Stems.”
- Place the five gene pool containers in different locations throughout the room.
- Hand out a copy of the What Does It Look Like? activity sheet to each pair of students.
- Next, have each individual student randomly select one feature from each of the gene pool containers.
- Returning to their pairs, have the students fill in the activity sheet with the features chosen. The partners then need to determine what their plant looks like. For example, if one partner chooses a dominant round fruit and the other partner chooses a recessive oval fruit, the plant will have round fruit. Finally, ask students to draw their plants, showing the appropriate features.
- Have the students display their plants. Compare the number of dominant traits expressed to the number of recessive traits expressed. Discuss the wide variety of plants produced from the same gene pool and how this activity shows that it is highly unlikely for two brothers or sisters to have exactly the same genetic makeup.
- Discuss how knowledge of dominant and recessive traits is important to agriculture. Ask students to think of all the different types of apples (or lettuce, onions, potatoes, etc.) they can buy at the grocery store. Each of these different types was developed by plant breeders who cross different parent plants to get the characteristics they want.
Alternative Teaching Strategies for Activity 1:
- Rather than working in pairs, have the class create one plant on a flannel board by randomly selecting from the gene pool.
- When discussing traits that are dominant, co-dominant, and recessive, use colored markers and a whiteboard to illustrate. Two colors can be blended for co-dominance and a recessive color can be erased.
Activity 2: Mixing Inherited Traits
- Place the following eight piles of mixed glitter on small paper plates and spread the plates out on a table, leaving at least a foot between plates.
- Red, blue, and green
- Red, silver, and green
- Red, blue, and magenta
- Red, silver, and magenta
- Gold, blue, and green
- Gold, silver, and green
- Gold, blue, and magenta
- Gold, silver, and magenta
- Pass out one Plant Parent 1 Card to each student. Explain that the card represents one parent plant and that each color on the card represents one trait that the parent will pass on to its offspring.
- Pass out one chenille stem piece to each student. Tell students that they are going to become pollinators. The chenille stems represent the hairy legs of a bee and the glitter piles represent the flowers of second parent plant.
- Show students how to bend the chenille stems into “bee legs” (a right angle bend near one end).
- Tell students they will visit one of the eight flowers (glitter piles) that will be the second parent (Parent 2) to the offspring they are creating.
- Ask each student to visit and place his or her “bee leg” into one pile of glitter.
- Have students return to their desks and remove the glitter from the “legs” onto a sheet of paper. Have them identify which colors are present for Parent 2 and compare them to the colors from the Plant Parent 1 Card.
- Explain that sometimes a trait that an offspring receives from a parent is not visible, even though the offspring carries the information for that trait.
- Show students the Glitter Plant Trait Key, which lists the trait that the offspring will exhibit for each color (trait) received from Parent 1 and Parent 2.
- Hand out and ask students to complete the Glittering Offspring activity sheet. They should use the glitter code listed at the top of the Glitter Plant Trait Key: red/gold colors determine the color of the petals; blue/silver colors determine the length of the stem; and green/magenta determine the color of the leaf.
- Example: If you had red, silver, and green listed from your Plant Parent 1 Card, and you obtained the colors gold, silver, and magenta from your glitter pile (Parent 2), then your plant would have:
- Red and Gold = Red Petals
- Silver and Silver = Short Stem
- Green and Magenta = Dark Green Leaves
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Plant breeders use knowledge of inherited traits to develop new varieties of crop and ornamental plants with improved characteristics.
- Plants and animals that reproduce sexually inherit one-half of their genes from each parent.
- Dominant genes can hide the expression of recessive genes.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Based on features in an offspring, discuss what the parent plants may have looked like.
Have the students design their own dominant and recessive features for the gene pool, perhaps adding some co-dominant traits for them to consider. Have them create the offspring with modeling clay.
Display pictures of two parent plants along with four different pictures of possible offspring. Have the students select which offspring is most appropriate based upon a list of dominant and recessive traits that you provide. Students should be able to justify their answers.
Have two pairs of students cross their plants to produce offspring. Create the offspring by random selection traits from each plant’s gene pool. Have one pair of students hold their traits behind their backs while the other pair chooses right or left hand to arrive at a trait. This process can continue through several generations. Display the plant’s family tree on a bulletin board.
Suggested Companion Resources
- How to Extract DNA from Anything Living (Activity)
- Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas (Book)
- How Do Apples Grow? (Book)
- In the Garden with Dr. Carver (Book)
- Bitter/Sweet Cucumber Taste Test (Kit)
- Parent/Offspring Cards (Kit)
- Pollination Simulation Kit (Kit)
- Pompom Punnett Square Kit (Kit)
- Strawberry DNA Necklace (Kit)
- DNA Learning Center (Website)
- Pollen Gallery (Website)
State Standards for Utah
Grade 3: SEEd Strand 3.2Organisms (plants and animals, including humans) have unique and diverse life cycles, but they all follow a pattern of birth, growth, reproduction, and death. Different organisms vary in how they look and function because they have different inherited traits. An organism’s traits are inherited from its parents and can be influenced by the environment. Variations in traits between individuals in a population may provide advantages in surviving and reproducing in particular environments. When the environment changes, some organisms have traits that allow them to survive, some move to new locations, and some do not survive. Humans can design solutions to reduce the impact of environmental changes on organisms.
Standard 3.2.2Analyze and interpret data to identify patterns of traits that plants and animals have inherited from parents. Emphasize the similarities and differences in traits between parent organisms and offspring and variation of traits in groups of similar organisms. (LS3.A, LS3.B)
Standard 3.2.4Construct an explanation showing how variations in traits and behaviors can affect the ability of an individual to survive and reproduce. Examples of traits could include large thorns protecting a plant from being eaten or strong smelling flowers to attracting certain pollinators. Examples of behaviors could include animals living in groups for protection or migrating to find more food. (LS2.D, LS4.B)
Grade 5: Science Standard 5Students will understand that traits are passed from the parent organisms to their offspring, and that sometimes the offspring may possess variations of these traits that may help or hinder survival in a given environment.
Objective 1Using supporting evidence, show that traits are transferred from a parent organism to its offspring. Meeting one or more of the following indicators: a) Make a chart and collect data identifying various traits among a given population (e.g., the hand span of students in the classroom, the color and texture of different apples, the number of petals of a given flower). b) Identify similar physical traits of a parent organism and its offspring (e.g., trees and saplings, leopards and cubs, chickens and chicks). c) Compare various examples of offspring that do not initially resemble the parent organism but mature to become similar to the parent organism.(e.g., mealworms and darkling beetles, tadpoles and frogs, seedlings and vegetables, caterpillars and butterflies). d) Contrast inherited traits with traits and behaviors that are not inherited but may be learned or induced by environmental factors (e.g., cat purring to cat meowing to be let out of the house; the round shape of a willow is inherited, while leaning away from the prevailing wind is induced). e) Investigate variations and similarities in plants grown from seeds of a parent plant (e.g., how seeds from the same plant species can produce different colored flowers or identical flowers).
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Science, Technology, Engineering & Math
- Identify examples of how the knowledge of inherited traits is applied to farmed plants and animals in order to meet specific objectives (i.e., increased yields, better nutrition, etc.) (T4.3-5.c)
Common Core Connections
Language: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.
3-LS3: Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
3-LS3-1Analyze the interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.