Who's in the Burrow?

Building a Better Dragon, One Gene at a Time

Pretty "Petunia" may not have gotten the fire-breathing gene, but she does have a menacing spiked tail, arched feet built for speed, pointed thighs, large pink wings, elbow spikes, and four intimidating head flaps. Male dragon Barney, on the other hand, was fortunate to get the fire-breathing gene, since he sports a large yellow comb on his head that might make him the object of some school-yard derision. Barney is noticeably flat footed, and has a much less-intimidating tail than does Petunia. 

They are two of a small clan of dragons born on the SBA campus this week, the spawn of the annual biology class "Dragon Genetics" project designed to help students understand how genes determine our physical traits. Welcome to SBA, Petunia, Barney, Betsy, Hansal, and Elliot, and thank you to biology teacher Andy Giordano for the following overview of this always popular project!

"Last week the biology class engaged in the annual favorite 'Dragon Genetics' activity. Once students get a firm grasp on patterns and mechanisms of inheritance, it is time to apply all of the principles in one activity. Students select sets of chromosomes, in essence generating parental genomes. Paired off, they create a baby dragon genotype by simulating meiosis among the parental genotypes. Students then are asked to interpret the genotypes by drawing a large dragon that displays the physical characteristics (phenotypes) dictated by their baby dragon's genes. The activity is extremely valuable, as students reinforce their understanding of topics across the unit (dominance, segregation, independent assortment, chromosomal mutations, meiosis, incomplete and co dominance, and sex-linked traits). It is also super popular because, well, Dragons!" - Andy Giordano, Biology Teacher