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Cells, Heredity, and Genetics



This article has information about science projects on cells, heredity, and genetics. These science project ideas are for 1st-4st grades, 5th-8th grades, and 9th-12th grades. Keep reading for more on cells, heredity, and genetics.

This group of science projects relates closely to the group on the human body, health, and nutrition, but looks at the same subject from a different angle - the cellular level. Meant to extend their textbooks and classroom experiences, these projects can be adapted as appropriate for your curriculum or your student’s interests, and made more complex or easier to suit a different grade range. Read ahead and be prepared to offer an alternative if you have a situation in which the child’s heredity is a sensitive subject, either because of adoption or for any other reason.

1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Grade

Tips: These elementary science projects in this area are mostly based on observation. Students may need help recording their observations, as their writing skills may not be up to the task. They may also need help keeping track of data collection.

  • Watch an animal judging or a pet show and distinguish different species of dog, cat, bird, horse, etc.
  • In a garden, find flowers that are alike and different.
  • Track eye color and hair color in 3 generations of a family.
  • Make a poster of adult and baby animals and the names of each (e.g., sow, boar, piglet).
  • Tell the difference between identical and fraternal twins.
  • Using photos or movies that star identical twins, if you don’t know any yourself, try to identify any differences between them.

5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Grade

Tips: As students go through puberty, certain elements of their heredity that may not have been clear before shine through. For example, it is at this age that adult height is attained, and a growth spurt may markedly change a young person’s perspective on the world, literally. Encouraging them to begin with a plan may allow them to continue the project from that point more independently.

  •  Make models that show the similarities and differences between plan and animal cells.
  •  Describe the process of mitosis.
  •  Describe the process of meiosis.
  •  Explain the ways in which human cells can differ from each other.
  •  Compare and contrast multicellular and unicellular organism’s approaches to movement and reproduction.
  •  Model a DNA double helix, identifying the component parts.
  •  Create a diorama distinguishing genotype and phenotype.
  •  Trace dominant and recessive traits in a family through 3 generations.
  •  Find out the process for determining a dog’s pedigree.
  •  Diagram the six important functions of a cell membrane.
  •  Use examples to explain the meaning of the term “genetic mutation.”

9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Grade

Tips: Some of the material in these science projects may only show up in Advanced Biology, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t of use: especially if your child is interested, encourage him or her to extend himself by trying one or more of these projects. For long-term projects, intermediate due dates for checking in can help keep the project on-track.

  •  Assess the significance of Watson’s and Crick’s discoveries.
  •  Ask three questions that can be answered by the Human Genome Project and then answer them.
  •  Using information found at the Genome Project website, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, compare the DNA sequence from several human genes to the corresponding sequence in two other mammals, a reptile or amphibian, and an insect.
  •  Reenact Gregor Mendel’s experiment with pea plants.
  •  Research the role that DNA plays in forensic science.
  •  Trace the development of the field of pharmacogenomics.
  •  Describe the ways in which genes can be altered.
  •  Categorize birth defects by the factors that cause them.
  •  With advances in genetics, birth defects can be diagnosed prenatally, and some attempts have been made to treat some birth defects prenatally as well. Choose a birth defect for which prenatal intervention has been attempted and assess the success of the treatments or approaches taken. If appropriate, compare and contrast with postnatal treatment and/or approaches. You might use this as a jumping off point: marchofdimes.com