While the internet is great for finding many generally useful educational technologies, it is not as helpful when looking to address specific conceptual issues in science education. In order to deal with this issue, I am initiating a blog which I hope will serve as an exchange of ideas to facilitate teaching of one specific biology subject, namely meiosis.
In teaching general biology and genetics, I have found that students struggle greatly with this topic. They have trouble distinguishing the different stages and differentiating homologues and sister chromatids. Not surprisingly they also have difficulty understanding the big picture questions of meiosis and understanding how it differs from mitosis.
In order to address these problems I have developed a number of activities to assist the students. Each blog post in this series will highlight a specific activity. I hope that these resources will be helpful and that other teachers will share what works for them in this subject.
These resources were made for a college biology class, most but should be adaptable for high school basic biology classes and AP classes.
Here are 2 Scratch programs in which students position chromosomes in mitosis and meiosis. In the first program, the students are told whether they are correct when the chromosome are placed, while the second is more a freehand program.
Mitosis Meiosis Scratch Activity
Mitosis Meiosis Scratch Activity 2
Here is a worksheet to go with the activities.
Mitosis and Meiosis Activities
I have made an electronic version of one the games in Meiosis Activity 2 using Thinglink.
To play the game, click on the link below. You will find a page with some chromosome figures. Your job is to place the figure at the bottom relative to the one at the top. There are 2 green buttons to push. If you chose the correct one, you will go to the next step. Again, look at the figure on the bottom and determine where it goes relative to the figures on top. Repeat this until you finish the game!
When you finish you will be directed to a video that is fun and helpful in teaching meiosis.
I also recommend this video
There is also a video worksheet which can be found here
This activity is an activity that has 2 purposes
(1) To help students integrate genetics and meiosis
(2) To help students understand the order and relationship between events in Meiosis
The activity is a game based loosely on Timeline a commercial game in which players attempt to put historical events in order.
In this game, students form teams of 2-3 players. The players start with 2 cards describing events of meiosis. The students must put these in the correct order. Once this students have attempted this, they check the first page of a key that tells then whether they are correct. If they are, they get a point. The team then goes to the next card and tries to order the event with respect to the first 2 cards. The students check the key as before. There are a total of 9 cards and the task becomes more difficult as there are more choices at each step.
A sample is shown below. B and b represent 2 different alleles. The separation indicates that the 2 alleles on not on chromosomes connected by a centromere. The students are urged to draw out the description and then put the card into interphase, Meiosis 1, or Meiosis 2.
This task is recommended for college students or advanced high school students. While the task is challenging, typically 1/3 to 1/2 of the teams will get a perfect score (15/15) in about 20 minutes.
Below are the game components including the cards, the key and the game rules
Game Cards for meiosis game
MEIOSIS GAME RULES
Note; The card key is printed at one slide per page and then stapled to make a booklet. To save paper, one can print this at 3 slides per page and cut out each slide and staple into a book.
Below is a somewhat simpler game with the same rules.
Meiosis Game Basic
Key for Meiosis Basic game
Rules for The Basic Meiosis Game
I give this activity before any discussion of meiosis. The students are able to understand basic concepts of meiosis without being told anything about how meiosis works.
In this activity cards representing different stages of meiosis (and the preceding interphase) are arranged in order. The original cell has an X chromosome (long) and and a Y chromosome (short) which makes it easier to determine what is happening at each stage.
Preparation. The game cards powerpoint has cards that can be printed out on card stock. Each group of 3-4 students should get one set and one set of instructions ( The Meiosis activity document above).
Prior to the exercise, I go over what happens to the X and Y chromosomes in mitosis using the same type of diagrams. This is shown below
Then I tell the students that while most cells in a male will have the X and the Y, the final sperms cells can only have an X or a Y. They need to arrange the cards starting with a cell with an X and Y and ending with 2 cells with an X and 2 with a Y. Most of the students can do this within 5-10 minutes.
When they are done, the students will draw their results and then label M1, M2, sister chromatids and homologues. They can then refer to this worksheet as they go through the details of meiosis.