5 Engaging Ways to Teach Mendelian Inheritance that Will Make it Easier to Understand

Anjaney Kothari

Gregor Mendel set into motion the revolutionization of the world of biology when he postulated his laws of inheritance. Indeed, Mendelian inheritance has vast, game-changing applications in agriculture, animal breeding, and medicine.

But not everyone has the incessant patience that Mendel had with his pea plants. Unfortunately, conducting experiments to see the Mendelian laws at work is too time-consuming for the teaching and training phase. Still, understanding Mendelian inheritance takes a certain level of visualization that conventional classroom teaching is inept at offering.

To address this dilemma, educators must devise new teaching methods that make Mendelian inheritance easier to grasp. Here, we list five ways to teach Mendelian inheritance that will make it easier to understand.

1. Engage Students with Interactive Models

Interactive models connect with students like no other teaching modality. They allow students to engross themselves in the subject matter while teaching complex concepts in creative ways. To make Mendelian inheritance an easier and more interesting topic for your students, consider using interactive models.

For example, you can use an interactive, online Punnett square generator to teach Mendel’s postulates. You can use a custom-made Punnett square generator that puts forth a visual rendering of the traits alongside gene codes. Such interactive strategies can keep students more engaged with the subject matter and make learning fun.

2. Make the Topic Fun with Games and Activities

Games and activities hold students’ attention for a longer time. This makes it easier for educators to communicate complex topics without the inherent burdens of a conventional classroom environment.

Take Labster’s Mendelian inheritance simulation, for example. In our simulation, students learn about Punnett squares, pedigree trees and mice breeding in a game-like environment. They also learn, through fun visuals, about dominant and recessive alleles and the biology of inheritance of traits from parents. This visually appealing, gamified teaching helps the students absorb the ideas of Mendelian inheritance in a more engaging way.

Punnett square interactive in a virtual lab.

3. Infuse Technology into Lessons

Technology can make it easier to teach topics where experiment-based teaching demands extensive time and resources. With technologies such as simulation and virtual reality, experimentation-oriented topics like Mendelian inheritance become more approachable. These technologies allow students to try their hands on experimental procedures without actually investing huge amounts of time or resources.

For example, Labster’s Mendelian inheritance simulation allows students to apply the laws of Mendelian inheritance in a virtual laboratory setting. The students get to understand the genetic transmission of the trait of fur color in mice. They further extrapolate this concept to the inheritance of color blindness in humans. And what’s more – all of this fun learning only takes about 30 minutes!

Mice in a virtual lab.
Discover Labster's Mendelian inheritance virtual lab today!

4. Inspire Students Through Career Exploration

Students in STEM fields respond positively to knowing about the career opportunities they can have upon learning about any topic. From an educator’s perspective, this means that discussions about possible career options should become an integral part of teaching.

You can easily apply this when teaching Mendelian inheritance to your students. Tell your students how geneticists trying to understand monogenic (Mendelian) diseases need to learn about the laws of Mendelian inheritance. Talk to them about the role of Mendel’s laws in a medical geneticist’s life of diagnosing and managing hereditary disorders.

5. Connect Topic to Real-World Applications

It may be difficult for students to realize that drawing Punnett squares on paper can have dramatic real-world applications. Educators should impress upon their students the paramount importance of Mendelian inheritance in real life. This would make them more interested to learn the subject matter and think of its practical applications.

Talk to your students about how Mendelian genetics helps us develop new and better species of hybridized plants for agriculture. Tell them how Mendel’s laws help us understand Mendelian diseases like cystic fibrosis, color blindness, phenylketonuria, hemophilia, and others.

Final thoughts

Despite the many advances biology has seen now, Mendel’s laws of inheritance have remained true since their publication in 1866. They have transformed agriculture and continue to provide novel insights into medicine, making Mendelian inheritance an important topic of study. The creative methods we have discussed here can help you teach Mendelian inheritance in a fun, easy, and engaging manner.

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