Demonstrating Meiosis Using Manipulatable Chromosomes and Cells
Mary F. Durham
This resource is an in-class, hands-on, manipulative modeling exercise designed to allow students to visualize and demonstrate meiosis in a diploid cell by manipulating a simplified three-dimensional model of chromosomes in a model germ cell; this is for students to complete individually but work through in small groups. Meiosis is consistently a challenging process for students to grasp, likely because it occurs on a microscopic and molecular level that is abstract to student thinking. By allowing each student to manipulate individual model chromosomes in a model cell, the activity makes meiosis a tangible and accessible concept to students in a way that allows students to make sense of the abstract properties of meiosis. It can specifically incorporate challenging aspects of meiosis and processes that occur during or as a result of meiosis that are often difficult for students to understand or visualize, including: crossing over; ploidy of the cells in different stages of meiosis; the number of chromosomes, chromatids, and DNA molecules at different stages of meiosis; how individual maternal and paternal alleles travel to individual gametes; how meiosis leads to genetic variation; and how mistakes in meiosis can result in aneuploidy. The implementation of this activity is designed to appeal to visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles.
Genetics Concept(s) Addressed:
Nature of genetic material: What are the molecular components and mechanisms necessary to preserve and duplicate an organism’s genome?
Transmission/patterns of inheritance: How does the phenomenon of linkage affect the assortment of alleles during meiosis?
Core Competencies Addressed:
Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question.
Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses.
Students should be able to identify and critique scientific issues relating to society or ethics.
Introductory, undergraduate major
meiosis, chromosomes, genetic variation, crossing over
Durham, Mary F. (2015). Demonstrating Meiosis Using Manipulatable Chromosomes and Cells. Genetics Society of America Peer-Reviewed Education Portal (GSA PREP): 2015.002; 10.1534/gsaprep
Resource Justification and Instructor Guide (PDF, Word)
Pre-Class Worksheet (PDF, Word)
Supplementary Instructor Guide – Common Student Mistakes (PDF, Word)