Genetics Survey Project
1994 Woodrow Wilson Biology Institute
This project is introduced during a double period laboratory at
the start of the unit on genetics. At this time students usually
have little knowledge of the mechanics of heredity. Students will
have two weeks to complete the survey. The list of human traits
that they will be observing is reviewed. It should be stressed
that these traits are interesting from a genetic standpoint but
they are minor variations in people and of relatively little significance.
It should be mentioned that no one should be made to feel uncomfortable
if he or she does not have a particular trait. It is reasonable
to have students conduct practice interviews with each other.
This gets the point across that their data charts must be detailed,
easy to keep, portable and flexible (since there will be some
students with variations other than our 'norms').
The format that the student uses is an open-ended part of this
project. Data charts are checked in 2ñ4 days, just to make
sure students remain on task and are not having any problems.
- To give students an opportunity to compile and manipulate data.
- To provide students with hands-on computer experience.
- To encourage students to become aware of genetic diversity and human variation from first hand observation.
- Interview 50 males and 50 females (no one under 6 years of age).
- Do not interview anyone who has been interviewed by another student since class data will be collected and compared to individual data.
- Design your own data charts (original data charts are turned in with project).
- Introductory Procedure Paragraph: explain how you set up your data and how you analyzed your results.
- Analysis: Include the percentages of males and females who had each trait. You can organize your data any way you want to.
Suppose you interviewed 45 females in your survey and 16 females
had freckles. Your answer would be 35.5%. This means that 35.5%
of the females that you interviewed had freckles.
- Results: Use the computer program Graphical Analysis
to graph the total number of people who had each
trait. The computer can be used during the laboratory period allotted
and/or during a study hall. The total number of people who had
each trait should be on the vertical axis and the traits surveyed
should be on the horizontal axis. Instructions on how to use the
computer program and printer will be provided. Make sure that
you have all of your data organized and ready to enter into the
computer during the scheduled lab.
- Research: During the two weeks that you are working
on this project, find out the pattern of inheritance for each
trait that we are studying. You may use your biology text, any
research books available in the laboratory, or books in the library
that are on reserve for this project.
- Conclusions: Compare your results with the library
research that you have conducted. For example:
Did your results show dominant or recessive genes? Sex-linked
genes? Multiple alleles?
Discuss any problems that you had with this project and
any ideas you have about how these problems could be solved. Discuss
any unusual variations that you found in your survey. What were
potential sources of error in your survey?
Hints: Organize your report carefully, creatively, and
neatly. Make sure that it is in on the due date
late report will not be accepted!
Instructions For Teachers:
The list of traits that are assigned to students to survey follows.
Each trait is explained in detail upon giving the assignment.
For example: freckles are considered on the face only. A judgment
few, many, none (a few after sun exposure is considered
Darwin's Ear Point
Index Finger Length
All class data is collected and placed on the class data sheet
to compare large vs. small populations.
The computer program used is Graphical Analysis: Vernier Software,
2920 S.W. 8th Street Portland, Oregon 97225, 503-297-5317
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation
CN 5281, Princeton NJ 08543-5281