Devil Karyotype (Remote)

This activity is a remote version of a paper lesson where students cut chromosomes of a Tasmanian devil and arrange them onto a karyotype. I also have a similar activity that uses human chromosomes, but I think that students find it frustrating to try to match 23 sets of chromosomes. Tasmanian devils only have 7 pairs of chromosomes, and since I generally just want students to visualize homologous chromosomes and how chromosomes can be analyzed, having only 7 sets eliminates the “busywork” feel of the activity.

In this version, students answer questions directly on the slides and use the mouse to drag chromosomes to a grid where they are matched and arranged by size. A later task then asks them to match an “extra” chromosome on the karyotype to model trisomy.

The Tasmanian devil karyotype is then compared to a human karyotype where the person has an extra chromosome 21, which results in Down syndrome. This is an activity I do after a short lesson on genetic disorders which includes how they are diagnosed. The paper version with a handout and a page for students to cut chromosomes is also available if you have in-person students, though the two are not exactly the same, some edits were required to make the remote version.

You can also discuss how the Tasmanian devil is endangered due to a transmissible cancer that causes facial tumors. This video explains how devils contract this cancer and what is being done to save the species.

Grade Level: 8-12
Time Required: 15-20 minutes

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