Common Core Basics


Smell the scent of a flower. Watch a pet at play. Listen to actors in a movie. The things you smell, see, and hear are observable traits. Those traits were inherited from the parents of the plants, pets, and people you observed.

The traits you observe in an organism are the organism’s phenotype. The code, or instructions that result in that phenotype, are called the organism’s genotype.

A genotype also includes information that is not expressed. It is the complete set of genetic information encoded in genes that reside on chromosomes inside the nucleus of each cell. You can use two parents’ genotypes to determine the possible genotypes among their offspring.

In this chapter you will learn about:

  • arrow_drop_downGenetics

    DNA is hereditary material that occurs in almost every cell in a living thing's body, including yours. Most of this DNA is found in a cell's nucleus. The information in DNA is stored in units called genes, and each gene is made of a sequence, or order, of base pairs. Those sequences of pairs are a kind of code that guides an organism's development, growth, and functioning.

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  • arrow_drop_downGenotypes and Phenotypes

    All of the genetic information carried in an organism's cells represents its genotype. All of the observable characteristics in a living thing, such as the shape of a leaf and the scent of a flower, are the organism's phenotype. Being familiar with the genotypes of two parent organisms makes it possible to predict the possible combinations of alleles, or variations of genes, that will occur in the offspring.

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Goal Setting

What are some things about genetics that you find most interesting? What would you like to know about genetics? A KWL chart is a graphic organizer that you can use to identify what you know (K), want to know (W), and have learned (L). List what you already know about genetics in the KWL chart. Then list what you want to know. As you read and discover answers to your questions, return to the chart to record what you have learned. Return to the KWL chart as often as you like throughout your reading.

What I Know What I Want to Know What I Learned
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