The Genetics and Epigenetic Effects of Diet on Health

Namrata Gupta, Science, Nations Ford Elementary School

Curriculum Unit (pdf)


This unit is designed to teach 5th grade Genetics. This can also be adapted for a middle school curriculum. My main goal for this unit is to primarily focus on how genes affect overall personality and appearance on an individual level as well as how we can implement changes within the genome by altering the environment through epigenetic mechanisms. In this unit, students will be able to understand some basic vocabulary to help them better understand genetics, learn about genetics at a cellular level specifically looking at the nucleus and the DNA of cells, and then at a broader level, traits and heredity on a more outside perspective. This unit is also designed to explore how human genes are expressed to produce physical traits and characteristics. Students should also know that all traits that are passed down from parent to offspring are not necessarily expressed. They should understand the importance of different alleles in each gene and the importance of dominant and recessive alleles.  The discussion on epigenetics will then allow students to explore how gene expression can differ due to the environmental factors rather than solely through inheritance. We will investigate epigenetics through the use of Arabidopsis and the effect of environmental conditions on its growth. The next section of the curriculum unit will focus mainly on epigenetics.