Genetics: Patterns of InheritanceLouise Rodgerson
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong
This CD-ROM is aimed at introductory genetics students and creates a virtual laboratory in which they undertake a variety of Mendelian crosses with pea plants. The activities include self-pollination experiments, monohybrid crosses, dihybrid crosses, crosses involving partial dominance and codominance, and test crosses. The CD-ROM is supported by an instruction manual for teachers and a work manual for students.
Genetics: Patterns of Inheritance is an excellent resource to complement an introductory genetics teaching program. In an environment where funds for teaching activities are ever decreasing there is an increasing demand for resources such as this CD-ROM that provide a quality learning experience without the costs associated with traditional teaching methods. This simulation provides an opportunity to reduce the labour intensive process of setting up 'live' crosses for students by allowing students to carry out and evaluate a variety of Mendelian crosses with pea plants. The activities include self-pollination experiments, monohybrid crosses, dihybrid crosses, crosses involving partial dominance and codominance, and test crosses.
Students enter a virtual laboratory equipped with all the necessary resources to carry out a wide variety of crosses and they have to perform a realistic range of activities to complete the crosses. For example, the aim of one of the simplest crosses is to obtain a strain of homozygous short pea plants from a mixed seed stock. Students select seeds from a mixed seed stock then plant the seeds in pots. This process continues until the students are sure they have a short plant which they then transfer to the breeding board, where using a magnifying glass and brush they self-pollinate the plants. The seeds from this cross are then collected and grown, and the resulting phenotypes recorded and analysed.
One of the aspects of the simulation that I particularly liked was the incorporation of complications that added an interesting touch of realism to the experiments. For example, students need to be aware of intruder bees that may result in cross-pollination when they are aiming to perform a self-pollination cross. This situation can be avoided by covering the flowers to prevent access to intruder bees.
Other positives are the user-friendly interface enabling easy navigation around the various sections within the simulation. Students can access help at anytime. Both teachers and students are provided with manuals to be used in conjunction with the simulation. Overall, I believe this is an excellent resource that will be of value to many teachers and students.
UniServe Science News Volume 17 November 2000
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