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Soap Opera Genetics – Genetics to Resolve Real-Life Dilemmas

Family tree by blood type

This analysis and discussion activity contains three "soap opera" episodes that help students to understand the principles of inheritance and the relevance of genetics to everyday life. In the first episode, students answer the probing questions of a skeptical father who wants to know how his baby could have albinism when neither he nor his wife have albinism.

The second episode, "Were the babies switched?", covers the concepts of codominance, incomplete dominance, and polygenic inheritance, and reinforces student understanding that the alleles of a gene give the instructions for making different versions of a protein.

In the third episode, students analyze sex-linked inheritance. Each episode can be used separately or with other episodes, depending on your teaching goals.

The Student Handout is available in the first two attached files and as a Google doc designed for use in online instruction and distance learning. (For additional instructions, see, especially item 7.) The Teacher Notes, available in the last two attached files, provide instructional suggestions and background information and explain how this activity is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.


GenetSoapOperaSHO.docx633.04 KB
GenetSoapOperaSHO.pdf348.09 KB
GenetSoapOperaTN.docx3.73 MB
GenetSoapOperaTN.pdf1.09 MB


iwaldron's picture

2022 revision

I have clarified some questions and reorganized the Student Handout to improve student understanding. I have also added information to the Teacher Notes.

Mr.Anesol's picture

I would like to use this for

I would like to use this for the class I am subbing for, but I want to make sure I do this right. Where can I find the answer sheet?

iwaldron's picture

Answer key

Please see the Teacher Notes for instructional suggestions, biology background, and instructions about how to obtain the key.

Michelle Mensinger's picture


Dr. Waldron,
Hello, Thank you for returning my email. I have the information I need, and is extremely helpful.

The Serendip Studio does not include CHEMISTRY alignment of activities & lesson plans with NGSS. Are you aware of any other sites that may have this information. I was hoping there maybe a 'sister' site that is providing the same type of information like yours.

Yes, I have Googled the information and I am coming up with not a site such as Serendip Studio. I am most appreciative of your sit & if I can be of any help to you, please do not hesitate to ask. THANIK YOU, MICHELLE.

iwaldron's picture

Additional Resources for NGSS Chemistry

Another source of NGSS-aligned activities is Chemistry activities are included under physical science.

Good luck,


Ann Dixon's picture

Merlot resource

I would recommend MERLOT for other science resources:

iwaldron's picture

2016 revision

The explanations and questions in each episode in the Student Handout have been substantially revised to enhance student understanding of genetics concepts such as polygenic inheritance and sex-linked inheritance. The Teacher Preparation Notes have also been revised to be clearer and more informative.

iwaldron's picture

2013 revision

In this 2013 revision, the Student Handout has been streamlined and the questions have been revised to focus on the learning goals and more actively engage students in understanding important genetic concepts. The Teacher Notes have been expanded to include increased background biology, suggestions for discussing the Student Handout questions, and a brief explanation of how this activity aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards.

iwaldron's picture

August 2012 revision

This revised version includes a new episode that focuses on the interacting effects of genes and environment on phenotypic characteristics, as well as improved questions in other episodes.

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