In this unit we will learn about heredity – the passing on of genetic traits from parents to offspring. These traits give each of us our individual physical characteristics. We will see how in both the animal and plant kingdoms, offspring will have inherited traits – characteristics passed down genetically – and learned traits – characteristics developed due to environmental factors and individual choices.
Lesson 1: Similarities of Parents and Offspring We will begin our study of genetics by looking at the concept of traits. Genetic traits are the characteristics or properties of an organism that are inherited from the organism’s parents. With all species, the traits possessed by an organism will have many commonalities with its parent organisms. Many traits are inherited, or passed down from parent to offspring. While an individual organism may share a specific trait with a single parent, all organisms of a species will share many traits common to the species. Heredity in organisms occurs as a result of genes. These genes are contained in DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and determine many of an organism’s traits. Download PDF Notes
Lesson 2: Inherited and Learned Traits In lesson 2, we will explore the difference between inherited traits and learned traits in organisms. Inherited traits are the traits that are passed down genetically from parents to offspring. Characteristics such as hair color, eye color, and height are examples of inherited traits. Learned traits are the characteristics that an organism acquires based on environmental factors. Characteristics such as a favorite color, ability to play a musical instrument, and skill at a particular sport are examples of learned traits. As we learn to distinguish between these two types of traits, we will look at more examples of each. Download PDF Notes
Lesson 3: Dominant and Recessive Traits Our third and final lesson of our genetics unit looks at the concept of dominant and recessive traits. Because children inherit traits from both parents, a child will generally have some characteristics of both their mother and father. Dominant and recessive traits describe how likely it is for a particular trait to pass from parent to offspring. A dominant trait is a trait more likely to be present, and a recessive trait is less common. Each inherited trait that a person has comes from a pair of genes called alleles. If at least one dominant allele are present in one of these pairs, the dominant trait will be present. If both alleles in the pair are for the recessive trait, then the recessive trait will be present. An individual with a dominant and recessive allele in a pair would display the dominant trait, but could possibly pass the recessive trait to their offspring. Download PDF Notes
Resources and Other Documentation
Unit 2 Guided Notes The guided notes for each unit provide students with a printable copy of notes summarizing the content from each class. Blanks are inserted into the notes where key facts or content should appear. As information is covered during class, students should write missing content into the blanks to complete the guided notes. These guided notes may also be used as a review tool for unit tests. Students may print a copy of the guided notes and fill in the missing content. This can be checked using the complete PDF notes for each lesson.