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Third graders grow seeds to learn about genetic inheritance

Mrs. Kloorfain’s third-graders are not waiting until high school to start learning about the Mendelian principles of genetic inheritance.

Using natural and electric light, they are cross-germinating different generations of seeds on a classroom windowsill. Everyday they make note of the changes they observe in stem lengths, the form, color and texture of ripe and unripe seeds, and investigate the differences between inherited genetic traits and those influenced by the environment.

They discuss their findings as a class and talk in terms of dominant and recessive genes, calling out genotype symbols with causal familiarity.

As they progress in their scientific exploration, students will also predict outcomes and compare them to their experimental results.

“This is really cool stuff. I like it, and I’m going to grow my own seeds at home,” Sofia said.

A Project Lead the Way activity, this life science unit on the variation of genetic traits is aligned with third-grade learning standards. Specifically, students will develop a model to describe that some young plants [and animals] are similar to, but not exactly like, their parents.