Introduction: Create a Creature
Did you know that your body came with its own set of instructions that tell it what color your eyes will be, whether your hair will be curly or straight, how tall you will be and many other things? These instructions are stored inside of your cells as chains of molecules called DNA, or genes.
Half of your genes are inherited, or passed down, from your mother and the other half comes from your father. This means that you have two copies of genes- one set from each of your parents. Since you only need one set of instructions for each characteristic, or trait, sometimes one of your sets of genes will take a backseat while other “stronger” genes are expressed. The “stronger” genes are called dominant genes and the “weaker” genes are called recessive genes.
If the gene for brown eyes is considered dominant and can be represented by (B) and the gene for blue eyes is recessive and can be represented by (b), a child of someone with brown eyes (B) and someone with blue eyes (b) would have a pair of genes that looks like this: Bb. This child would have brown eyes because the gene for brown eyes (B) would be dominant over the recessive blue eyes gene (b). If both parents have blue eyes (b), then the child’s genes would look like this: bb. This child would have blue eyes. This is a very simplified explanation of a complicated idea, but it should give you enough information to enjoy today’s Create a Creature activity!
During this activity, you will flip a coin to determine whether a trait will be expressed by a dominant gene or a recessive gene. Since you will be combining genes from each of your creature’s parents, you will need to flip your coin two times for each trait. We’ve made a printable chart to help guide you through the creation of your creature step-by-step. Detailed instructions and pictures are also included in this post to help you get the hang of things.
Terms to Know:
Genes: instructions made of DNA and found in cell for how traits will be expressed in an organism
Inherited: passed down from a parent to a child
Dominant gene: a gene in one strand of DNA that is always expressed over the corresponding gene in another strand of DNA.
Recessive gene: a gene in one strand of DNA that is only expressed if the corresponding dominant gene in another strand of DNA is not present.
- coin or dice
- "Create a Creature" Printable Chart or Hand written chart
Step 1: Practice Flipping or Rolling
For this activity, you can choose to either flip a coin and assign “dominant” or “recessive” to each side or roll dice and assign “dominant” or “recessive” to the odd numbers and even numbers. Either way, it is helpful to practice identifying the outcome of your flips or rolls before you get into the other parts of the activity. When I did this, I wrote out each possible combination of coin flips on a piece of scrap paper. I used “H” to represent heads (dominant) and “h” to represent tails (recessive).
Step 2: Flip for Your Creature’s Traits and Draw As You Go
Using the "Create a Creature" printable, add traits to your creature step-by-step. It may help to write out your genes (coin flip outcomes) on your paper as you go.
Step 3: Add Some Finishing Touches!
Add some finishing touches to your creature! If you enjoyed this activity, do it again to make them a friend!
Take a look at our other instructables for more science activities and experiments! https://www.instructables.com/member/Sciencecityed/ And for more information about Science City, visit https://www.unionstation.org/sciencecity or follow us on Facebook @ScienceCityKC. Remember, to tag us or hashtag #ScienceCityKC.