Grade Level

High School




Katherine Wu, Emily Berman

Lesson Summary

In this lesson, students learn about the relationships among environment, genotype, and phenotype. Through a case study approach, students learn about sickle cell anemia, a deadly recessive disease that remains prevalent in the human population because being a carrier of the disease confers resistance against malaria. Students explore the evolutionary trade-offs involved in this classic example of heterozygote advantage. Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe how a mutation at one point in the DNA can change an organism’s phenotype.
  • Draw and interpret pedigree and Punnett square models.
  • Analyze data tables and maps to make and support claims.
  • Explain the principle of an evolutionary trade-off, and how environmental conditions influence fitness.


Science and Engineering Practices:

SP2, SP4, SP6, SP7

MA Science and Technology/Engineering (2016):

HS-LS3-3, HS-LS3-4(MA), HS-LS4-1

NGSS (2013):

HS-LS3-1, HS-LS4-2, HS-LS4-3, HS-LS4-4

Common Core Math/Language Arts Standards:



Punnett square, autosomal, carrier, epidemiology, genotype, hemoglobin, heterozygote advantage, heterozygous. homozygous, malaria, parasite, pedigree, phenotype, recessive inheritance pattern, sickle cell anemia, sickle cell trait

Educator SoundBites

"I used this as half of my final exam in High School Biology, mostly 9th and 10th grade students. It worked well a performance task since it integrated a lot of concepts we studies second semester. It was right on point. The instructions were clear, and students needed very little help. They seemed to be very interested in it and were all immediately engaged. I thought it was a great and worthwhile exercise, integrating genetics and evolution, and having students complete tables, interpret data, and choose a claim and support it with evidence at the end."
Julie Bookman, Lancaster High School in Lancaster, CA

Lesson Documents


Download PDF View Google Doc


Download PDF View Google Doc


Download PDF View Google Doc

Full Lesson

Download Zip


Let us know what you think of this lesson!

Here There!

If you have any question, send us an email and we'll get back to you, soon.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt