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Students investigate variation in the beta globin gene by identifying base
changes that do and do not alter function, and by using several internet-based resources to consider the significance in different environments of the base change associated with sickle cell disease.
National Institutes of Health
two 50 minute periods
This activity is the second in a series entitled Human
Genetic Variation. We also recommend the introductory activity in this module: Alike but Not the Same. Before beginning this activity, students should understand basic Mendelian patterns of inheritance, especially autosomal-recessive inheritance; the basic structure of DNA; the transcription of DNA to messenger RNA; and the translation of messenger RNA to protein. This activity largely focuses on variation but could easily be extended or modified to emphasize variation's role in evolution to a greater degree.
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- Biological evolution accounts for diversity over long periods of time.
- Similarities among existing organisms (including morphological, developmental, and molecular similarities) reflect common ancestry and provide evidence for evolution.
- Evolution can sometimes be directly observed.
- Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism's survival and reproduction.
- Natural selection can act on the variation in a population in different ways.
- Science is a human endeavor.