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
Activity Type:

Lecture/In-Class Exercise
Activity Length:

30-50 minutes


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.2015.002

Resource Justification and Instructor Guide (PDF, Word)

In-Class Handout (PDF, Word)

Pre-Class Worksheet (PDF, Word)

Supplementary Instructor Guide – Common Student Mistakes (PDF, Word)