Learn about genetic inheritance and the findings of Mendel.
We have developed a series of clips to explore the Life Fantastic with your students. The pages are intended for use as a prompt to help you prepare when exploring these topics in lessons. Teachers have told us that the videos and questions best suit being used as a topic introduction.
On this page you will find an overview of the topic covered by the clips, a brief summary of each clip, related questions and how the topic links to the curriculum. This is one of eight available resources on developmental biology. For more topics see the teaching resources list.
The material in this resource is supported by video clips from the CHRISTMAS LECTURES 2013.
This resource is suitable for Key Stages 3 and 4 and AS/A2 level. Full curriculum links are given at the bottom of the page.
With demonstrations involving blue and yellow paint and blue and yellow balls, Alison Woollard unpicks the mechanism of inheritance. This video first considers the now-discredited blending theory of inheritance by using paint to represent the genetic contributions of each parent and asking if it is possible to recreate the parental blue and yellow colours after they have been mixed. Alison next introduces the work of Gregor Mendel and his discoveries on particulate inheritance. Alison proceeds to explain, using the blue and yellow balls as models for alleles of a single gene, how two parents of different phenotype will produce offspring of a single phenotype due to genetic dominance. In the second part of the demonstration Alison reveals how certain phenotypes can be recovered further down the generations as each parent contributes a single set of genes.
Running Time: 7 min 47 secs
With the help of a new litter of Oriental cats, Alison Woollard further illustrates the Mendelian mechanism of inheritance. In a real-life example of the previous experiment, Alison asks what the offspring of two short-haired cats will look like. The litter contains a mixture of short- and long-haired kittens. To produce a mixed litter of short and long hair we learn that the adult cats must have had two different coat-length alleles, just like the mixture of blue and yellow balls in the experiment. Like the blue balls, the parent cats have short hair because it is the dominant allele. We also see that there is a mixture of colours in the litter, in a second example of the assortment of genes under Mendelian inheritance.
Running Time: 2 min 34 secs
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Conforming to ‘Genetics and Evolution: Inheritance, chromosomes, DNA and genes’, this resource expands upon the idea that information is transmitted onto the next generation.
The clips give a visual demonstration of Mendel’s work and genetic crossing. The concepts of dominant and recessive genes are illustrated by ball colour and coat length in cats. The ball demonstration illustrates the inheritance of characteristics due to different genes and the terms hetero- and homozygosity.
This corresponds to Edexcel GCSE Biology 2BI01/ Science 2SC01 Unit B1 Topic 1 ‘Classification, variation and inheritance’ 1.21-22; AQA GCSE Biology 4401/Science 4405 Unit 1: Biology 1 B1.7.1 ‘Why organisms are so different’ and Biology 4401/Advance Science 4408 Unit 2: Biology 2 B2.7.2 ‘Genetic variation’; OCR GCSE Biology A J243/Science A J241 Unit A161 Module B1 ‘You and your genes’ sections B1.1 5, B1.2 1-4, 7-8, 12, and B1.3 2 and 4; and in the discussion of inheritance in AQA GCSE Science B 4450 Unit 2: My Family and Home 126.96.36.199 ‘Human Inheritance and genetic disorders’.
The clips demonstrate the concepts of dominant and recessive genes, hetero- and homozygosity, genotype and phenotype.
Appropriate for AQA GCE Biology A2 2411 Unit 4 BIOL4 ‘Populations and environment’ section 3.4.8; OCR GCE Biology A2 Unit F215 Module 1 ‘Cellular control and variation’ section 5.1.2.
View the full CHRISTMAS LECTURES, Life Fantastic, along with behind the scenes footage, and related content, at the Ri Channel (www.richannel.org).