Meiosis is an important topic in biology, but it is also one of the most difficult for students to grasp. Not only is it a difficult subject to learn, but it is also a fairly tricky topic to teach.
Anyone disagree? *crickets*
Great! We all agree. Let’s move on.
The truth is that teaching meiosis doesn’t have to be boring or mundane. You can make it exciting and engaging for students!
Let’s take a look at 5 engaging ideas for how to teach meiosis.
Hopefully these will give you some new ideas that you can use in your classroom as early as tomorrow!
Need some ready-to-use meiosis activities? I’ve got you covered:
1 – Gummy Worm Meiosis
That’s all you need to say to engage students in biology class.
One of my favorite activities to teach meiosis is using gummy worms. Not only does this activity involve candy, but it creates a visual picture for students that will help them retain the steps and details of meiosis.
First, divide the class into groups and give each group a bag of gummy worms. Tell students that each pair of gummy worms represents a pair of homologous chromosomes and each color represents a different gene on a chromosome.
Students then line up gummy worms in pairs, matching the colors as closely as possible. They have now paired homologous chromosomes.
Students now separate the pairs as it happens during meiosis I. Next, students will separate the remaining gummy worms, representing the separation of sister chromatids in meiosis II.
Once the above is completed, students can count the number of gummy worms they have in total. Students have successfully created genetic diversity through meiosis.
By using gummy worms, students have been given the opportunity to visualize and manipulate the different stages of meiosis. Students will be more likely to retain the information since it was presented in a more accessible and engaging way, as opposed to just sitting at their desk and taking notes during a lecture.
If you have dietary restrictions or your school does not allow the use of food in lessons, an alternative would be to use pipe cleaners.
You could take this activity a step further and require students to create a stop motion video of meiosis.
Here is an amazing student example from YouTube:
2 – Use Google Slides Activities
Google Slides is a great way to make interactive games and exercises for students. Bright and full of color, Google Slides will help make the content more enticing and create an easily remembered visual image for the students.
You can make it easier for students to understand meiosis by creating interactive activities. These can include labeling and describing the stages of meiosis, comparing and contrasting meiosis and mitosis, and labeling the process of fertilization.
If you want a set of done-for-you meiosis Google Slides activities, check these out:
In addition, you can even add supplemental activities, such as videos, right into the Google Slides activity. Students can watch the video when completing the assignment, but also go back to it later to review.
You can even use Google Slides to demonstrate how bar graphs can be relevant in this scientific unit.
Students will begin by completing a table determining the diploid and haploid numbers of different species. Some of the species include a domesticated cat, broccoli, and a polar bear.
After completing the table, students click and drag the bars to their respective numbers. This bar graph creates a visual representation of how the diploid numbers vary across different species.
Differentiation in the classroom is extremely important. All you have to do is change the activity to give different students the extra help they need. You can assign students certain slides based on if they need more support or less support.
3 – Meiosis Lab
We all know that students love laboratory activities. You can take this opportunity to incorporate a lab into your meiosis lesson.
For this lab, students will be looking at an anther squash. Anthers are the part of a flower that produce pollen (a sex cell).
You can find more details on the anther squash lab here.
This lab provides the best educational outcomes when it is completed towards the end of the unit and all of the stages have been taught.
You can provide students with prepared slides or students can make up their own. In all honesty, I recommend determining which choice is best based on the students you have in your class this year.
Note: this lab is time-consuming and not always successful, but it is great for students to get familiar with using microscopes.
Students then stain the cells to make the chromosomes more visible. Once the stain is on, your students will place the slide under the microscope and search the cells. There are likely to be a mix of mature pollen grains, cells that not undergoing meiosis, and cells that are actively dividing.
Ask students to locate cells that are actively dividing. Students can then draw what they see, paying close attention to the location and appearance of the chromosomes.
Students should try to identify as many stages of meiosis as they can. They can then compare and discuss with other groups.
Tip: if you find a group that has any particularly clear examples of the phases of meiosis, ask other students to come and view these too.
The anther squash lab helps students gain a deeper understanding of meiosis, as well as develop their skills in microscopy and recording data.
4 – Create a flip book
An effective way for students to learn meiosis is by creating a flip book. This interactive visual will help students reinforce the multiple stages of meiosis.
You should begin by giving students an overview of meiosis and the different stages that are part of it. I recommend giving them a printout of the stages of meiosis, or leaving it projected on your board for reference.
Students will then need to get five pieces of paper, markers, crayons, and anything else they need to make a flip book that will suit their learning needs.
Each of the five papers should be folded to create ten flaps: prophase I, metaphase I, anaphase I, telophase I, cytokinesis, prophase II, metaphase II, anaphase II, telophase, and cytokinesis II.
On each flap, students will need to draw and label the appropriate stages of meiosis, as well write a brief description of what happens in each stage.
Now, students have their own personal reference guide!
5 – Use Doodle Notes
It is not a secret that there are many terms, steps, and information when it comes to meiosis. In order for students to fully grasp the concepts, they need to have a way to break down the information and see the big picture, which means…
I have created an engaging set of Doodle Notes for meiosis.
Students begin by describing the purpose of meiosis and a basic overview of the process of meiosis.
Once the basics are covered, more advanced topics are included within the Doodle Notes, such as crossing over.
The second page of the Doodle Notes help students compare meiosis I and meiosis II by having these side-by-side. Students describe each phase and then create a key. This helps them understand which events are common to both cellular divisions, and which are unique.
If the Doodle Notesare too complicated for some students, there are differentiated versions that will support students who need it. For instance, there are two versions of filling in the stages of meiosis. In one version, the descriptions are completely blank and the other includes a fill-in-the-blank option.
There are also blank versions for students to add their own doodles of what is happening inside the cell. This is great for students that love drawing!
How will you teach meiosis?
Hopefully, you have gained some ideas of how to teach meiosis to your students in a way that will make it a little less challenging and little more fun!
By using these diverse activities, you can help your students develop a deeper understanding of meiosis and its role in genetic diversity and evolution.
If you want an easy-to-implement bundle that you can use tomorrow – check out my bundle of meiosis resources here.
I hope you have a wonderful day,