Learning Resource Type

Lesson Plan

Dragon Genetics

Subject Area



9, 10, 11, 12


Students will construct a model of a dragon based on traits inherited from the parent dragons. This activity demonstrates the inheritance of dominant and recessive traits, codominance, and incomplete dominance. Students will use Punnett Squares to predict genotypic and phenotypic ratios of the dragon population in the class. This project could serve as a culminating activity for Genetics and the Inheritance of traits.  

This activity was adapted from Alabama Science in Motion.

This lesson results from a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and ASTA.

    Science (2015) Grade(s): 09-12 - Biology


    Analyze and interpret data collected from probability calculations to explain the variation of expressed traits within a population.

    Unpacked Content



    • Genetics
    • Allele
    • Dominant
    • Recessive
    • Homozygous
    • Heterozygous
    • Genotype
    • Phenotype
    • Law of segregation
    • Hybrid
    • Law of independent assortment
    • F1 and F2 generations
    • Monohybrid
    • Dihybrid
    • Punnet square
    • Probability
    • Crossing over
    • Genetic recombination
    • Carrier
    • Pedigree
    • Incomplete dominance
    • Codominance
    • Multiple alleles
    • Epistasis
    • Sex chromosome
    • Autosome
    • Sex-linked trait
    • Polygenic trait


    Students know:
    • Inheritable genetic variations may result from: new genetic combinations through meiosis, viable errors occurring during replication, and mutations caused by environmental factors.
    • Variations in genetic material naturally result during meiosis when corresponding sections of chromosome pairs exchange places.
    • Genetic material is inheritable.
    • Genetic variations produced by mutations and meiosis are inheritable.
    • The difference between genotypic and phenotypic ratios and percentages.
    • Examples of genetic crosses that do not fit traditional inheritance patterns (e.g., incomplete dominance, co-dominance, multi-allelic, polygenic) and explanations as to how the observed phenotypes are produced.
    • Mendel's laws of segregation and independent assortment.
    • Pedigrees can be used to infer genotypes from the observation of genotypes.
    • By analyzing a person's family history or a population study, disorders in future offspring can be predicted.


    Students are able to:
    • Perform and use appropriate statistical analysis of data, including probability measures to determine the relationship between a trait's occurrence within a population and environmental factors.
    • Differentiate between homozygous and heterozygous allele pairings.
    • Create Punnett squares to predict offspring genotypic and phenotypic ratios.
    • Explain the relationship between the inherited genotype and the visible trait phenotype.
    • Examine genetic crosses that do not fit traditional inheritance patterns (incomplete dominance and co-dominance).
    • Use chromosome models to physically demonstrate the points in meiosis where Mendel's laws of segregation and independent assortment are observed.
    • Analyze pedigrees to identify the patterns of inheritance for specific traits/ disorders including autosomal dominant/ recessive as well as sex-linked and mitochondrial patterns.


    Students understand that:
    • In sexual reproduction, chromosomes can sometimes swap sections during the process of meiosis, thereby creating new genetic combinations and thus more genetic variation.
    • Although DNA replication is tightly regulated and remarkably accurate, errors do occur and result in mutations, which are also a source of genetic variation.
    • Environmental factors can also cause mutations in genes, and viable mutations are inherited.
    • Environmental factors also affect expression of traits, and hence affect the probability of occurrences of traits in a population.
    • The variation and distribution of traits observed depends on both genetic and environmental factors.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Developing and Using Models; Analyzing and Interpreting Data; Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

    Crosscutting Concepts

    Patterns; Systems and System Models

    Primary Learning Objectives

    Learning Targets

    • I can construct a model of a dragon based on the characteristics inherited from the parent dragons.
    • I can create Punnett squares to explain the variation of expressed traits among the dragon population in the class.

    Additional Learning Objective(s)

    Students will:

    • Use mathematics and computation to predict phenotypic and genotypic ratios and percentages by constructing Punnett squares, including using both homozygous and heterozygous allele pairs. 
    • Develop and use models to demonstrate codominance, incomplete dominance, and Mendel's laws of segregation and independent assortment.



    Day 1

    Before (Engage)

    Step 1: Place students into cooperative learning groups. Give each group of students a Vocabulary Word Sort. The students will work together to match the vocabulary term to the correct definition. The students can take a picture of their completed word sort with their digital device. Once all groups have finished, the answers should be discussed with the class.
    Step 2: Use the PowerPoint Presentation to discuss the answers with the class.

    During/Explore/Explain (2 Days)

    Step 3: Students will construct a model of their dragon based on the directions from their lab sheet. (It will take 2 days for students to create the model of their dragon.)

    Day 2

    Step 3 Continued: Students should finish their dragon model and display it on the wall in the classroom. 

    Day 3 


    Step 4: Students should complete the Lab Analysis Questions on their student Data Sheet. Punnett squares should be provided as evidence for their answers.


    Assessment Strategies

    The teacher will review each student's completed vocabulary word sort to determine if the student was able to accurately define the scientific vocabulary words.

    Students will be assessed on the model of their dragon and the completion of Lab Data Sheets. The teacher should evaluate each student's completed work to determine if the student was able to create Punnett squares diagrams that explained the variation of expressed traits among the model dragon population.



    Once the students have completed their dragon, pair up students and have them make a new dragon from the dragon each student created. Student pairs will have to determine the traits that will be inherited from the parents.


    Pairing students based on academic strengths and weaknesses will help them understand the heredity of traits. Their partner can also help them with the construction of their dragon.

    Approximate Duration

    Total Duration

    91 to 120 Minutes

    Background and Preparation


    Students should be familiar with the following key terms: monohybrid cross, dihybrid cross, phenotype, genotype, homozygous, heterozygous, dominant traits, recessive traits, codominance, incomplete dominance, allele, trait, Mendel, Mendel's Law of Segregation, Mendel's Law of Independent Assortment.

    Materials and Resources

    Materials and Resources


    The teacher needs two pennies per student.

    The students can work in pairs, but most prefer to make their own dragons.

    The teacher needs to make student copies of the lab sheet and dragon parts worksheet.

    The teacher also needs a set of the Vocabulary Word Sort Cards for each student group. The terms and definitions should be separated before the lab and placed in ziploc bags.

    You also need scissors, colored pencils, glue or tape.


    Technology Resources Needed


    Interactive whiteboard for PowerPoint Presentation.

    iPads/Tablets for students to take pictures of the Vocabulary Word Sort.