Age group: 

Classroom unit


In this unit students learn basic introductory ideas about genetics in a way that they can easily understand.

They learn about dominant and recessive genes, about plant breeding using these principles, and about the man who first recognised these principles, the scientist Gregor Mendel.

Finally, they 'create' their own new plant, and 'register' it on a mock form to claim their Plant Breeder’s Rights in it. The IP concept contained in this until is Plant Breeder’s Rights. 

The IP concept contained in this unit is Plant Breeder's Rights.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this unit students will be better able to:

  • explain in simple terms what genes are and how they influence the characteristics of living things
  • understand the meaning of ‘natural selection’
  • understand why Gregor Mendel was an important scientist
  • demonstrate a basic understanding of plant breeding
  • understand what Plant Breeder’s Rights protect

Curriculum Area/s:  Science- Botany- Genetics

Year/s: Ages 8-11 (Primary)


Duration: 1-2 x 45 minute lessons

Teacher Prep Time: 5 minutes

Materials required: Online, smart board or hard copies of Worksheets 1


1. Introduce students to the idea of genetic variety within a species through the photographs and questions on Worksheet 1. This raises the questions: why do similar things have individual differences?

2. Read through the information on Worksheet 2. Make sure students understand the key idea of natural selection in a simple way.

3. Have students read about Gregor Mendel and his work (Worksheet 3). Explain to students that they are going to see what he did using one simplified example.

4. Work through Worksheet 4 with students. Make sure that they understand each step in the sequence of genetic changes that are illustrated through the three generations of breeding.

5. Students can now complete the Mendel’s punnet squares. They can use the one provided (Worksheet 5), or the alternative approach of physically cutting out the squares provided and pasting them on the template page (Worksheet 6), which should be printed to A3 size. An 'answer sheet' is provided to help teachers make sure the students are accurate in creating their own punnett squares.

6. Students can now look at a real example of how genes have been manipulated to create a new or hybrid variety of plant - the Grevillea Robyn Gordon. Students see the information about the hybrid and the two plants from which it was created (Worksheet 7), and understand that there are slight but significant differences.

7. They now 'create' their own imaginary plant , and can read the overview of the Plant Breeder's Rights application process. This will help explain and justify the innovations that they are creating. They consider why that will be a valuable thing to do.

worksheet_1-_what_does_variety_within_a_species_mean.pdf PDF in PDF format [345.48 KB]345.48 KB
worksheet_2-_what_is_natural_selection.pdf PDF in PDF format [197.69 KB]197.69 KB
worksheet_3-_the_discoveries_of_gregor_mendel.pdf PDF in PDF format [440.18 KB]440.18 KB
worksheet_4-_what_did_mendel_discover.pdf PDF in PDF format [263.82 KB]263.82 KB
worksheet_5-_what_did_mendel_discover.pdf PDF in PDF format [274.15 KB]274.15 KB
worksheet_6-_teacher_answers_to_mendels_punnett_squarepdf.pdf PDF in PDF format [204.3 KB]204.3 KB
worksheet_7-_how_does_this_work_with_the_robyn_gordon_grevillia.pdf PDF in PDF format [334.43 KB]334.43 KB
worksheet_8-_claim_your_plant_breeders_rights.pdf PDF in PDF format [292.54 KB]292.54 KB
worksheet_9-_design_your_own_new_plant.pdf PDF in PDF format [192.99 KB]192.99 KB
Last updated: 
Saturday, November 23, 2013