Teaching Mutations through Inquiry

One thing I love most about teaching science is how easy it lends itself to student inquiry.  After all, science is all about inquiring about the world around us, studying it, and drawing conclusions.  So, why not foster this type of learning environment in the classroom?

Recently, as we approached our unit on mutations, I decided that I wanted my students to learn about the different types of gene mutations in a different way.  So instead of my traditional method of delivery, I had students complete a series of inquiry stations in which they discovered the different types of gene mutations on their own.

Before beginning the activity, I set the atmosphere by telling my students that today they are scientists who specialize in identifying and determining the cause of different mutations. Their latest project involves a particular species of frogs in which certain mutations introduce new traits into the population.  During the class period, their job is to examine the DNA sequences for 3 different traits and determine the type of mutation that has caused the new trait.

At each station, students are provided with a DNA sequence from a “normal” frog without the new trait and a DNA sequence from a “mutated” frog with the new trait.  They must transcribe and translate both sequences, determine the overall change to the final protein, and lastly evaluate whether it is a substitution, deletion, or insertion mutation.

After the activity, students answer a series of questions that draws a connection between  mutations and evolution.  By the end of the activity, my students can identify gene mutations, evaluate their effect on the final protein, and draw inferences on the impact mutations have on evolution.

All in all, this inquiry based activity had my students engaged, collaborating, and discussing throughout the class period which is exactly what I wanted.

If you are interested in this activity be sure to click HERE!

Mutations Stations

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