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Down Syndrome

Mitosis, Meiosis and Fertilization

Newer Version Available

The activity below has a new and improved version available as two separate handouts; this older version is available as an archive to teachers still using it. Please find the new version at: Mitosis - How Each New Cell Gets a Complete Set of Genes and Meiosis and Fertilization – Understanding How Genes Are Inherited.



In the  hands-on activity, Mitosis, Meiosis and Fertilization, students use model chromosomes to simulate the processes of mitosis, meiosis and fertilization, and they answer questions designed to promote understanding of these processes. To demonstrate the principle that genes are transmitted from parents to offspring through the processes of meiosis and fertilization, students follow two alleles of a gene through gametes to zygotes as they model meiosis and fertilization. Students also learn how a mistake in meiosis can result in Down Syndrome.

Emily Alspector's picture

The Friendly Gene

This past summer, I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship, which funded an NGO internship in Oaxaca, Mexico for four weeks. I worked at a school that taught children of all ages (infants to teenagers) who have been diagnosed with Down syndrome. Because my Spanish was not exactly comprehensible at first, I had a hard time communicating with the students. However, one of the students sensed my timidity with the language and would occasionally strike up a conversation with me, speaking with a tone of support and patience. Every other day, we had an hour designated to a “dance party,” which was sometimes their only form of exercise. I, again, was shy at

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