Gene Mutations Science Games
In this series of games, your students will learn about the DNA protein coding process and the irregularities it can produce. The Gene Mutations learning objective — based on NGSS and state standards — delivers improved student engagement and academic performance in your classroom, as demonstrated by research.
Scroll down for a preview of this learning objective’s games and the concepts they drive home.
DNA contains the genetic blueprint of all living things. It comes in double helix-shaped strands, which look like twisted ladders. The ladders’ rungs are made up of two kinds of nucleotide pairs: adenine and thymine, and cytosine and guanine.
During cell division, DNA replicates itself, but it sometimes makes errors. Most of these errors are fixed during the process, but the ones that aren’t may become gene mutations.
Genes contain the code for making proteins, so mutations sometimes alter the way proteins are made. This can cause the body to make proteins incorrectly or make a different protein altogether and can therefore affect the way a trait presents itself in an organism. Mutations can either be neutral, beneficial, or harmful to an organism’s ability to survive.
One type of mutation is substitution, when one nucleotide pair is replaced with a different one. Another is deletion, when a pair is deleted from the DNA sequence, and insertion, when a new pair is added. There is also inversion, when a segment of the DNA code is reversed.
Mutations often occur as a random coincidence, but they can also happen because of exposure to certain chemicals. For example, a person who is exposed to lots of radiation can develop a cell mutation that causes cancer.
Some mutations are hereditary, meaning parents pass them down to their offspring. They occur in sperm and eggs (sex cells), and exist in almost every cell in the body.
Somatic mutations occur in non-sex cells and cannot be passed on to offspring. For example, skin cancer comes from a mutation caused by high exposure to ultraviolet light and is not hereditary.
A preview of each game in the learning objective is found below.
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