Heredity and Variation

SciPack Digital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

SciPacks are self-directed online learning experiences for teachers to enhance their understanding of a particular scientific concept and its related pedagogical implications for student learning. Unlimited expert content help via email and a final assessment both facilitate and document teacher learning.

The Heredity and Variation SciPack explores patterns of inheritance and discusses how offspring can look similar to their parents yet still possess differences within their genetic code. These differences can sometimes affect (positively or negatively) an offspring’s ability to survive and reproduce. Our ancestors used their observations of plants and animals to cultivate crops and domesticate animals. Now, through the use of technology and our current understanding of the DNA molecule, scientists can study individual genes and a gene’s impact on the inheritance of traits.

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Reviews (30)
  • on Thu Dec 05, 2019 1:48 PM

This SciPack was great refresher for me before starting our genetics unit! It also gave me some new examples and ideas of explaining specific concepts to my students.

Jessica Wilson  (Prairieville, LA)
Jessica Wilson (Prairieville, LA)

  • on Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:20 PM

This SciPack was a great refresher for me! I have always been interested in genetics and variation among species, so this SciPack kept my interest. It was easy to navigate, and I like that it gives you the option to listen to the audio rather than read the entire SciPack. The embedded interactives were fun and could be used with students. The embedded quizzes were very helpful because they would explain why your answer was correct or why it was incorrect and would allow for multiple tries to ensure that you knew what the correct answer was and why. My favorite part of this SciPack is the integration of various hands-on activities that can be used in the classroom. This SciPack is definitely worth the time put into it, and I would do many more like this to develop/brush up on content knowledge and teaching strategies.

Cicily Smith
Cicily Smith

  • on Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:07 AM

This SciPack is a great resource for learning some of the science concepts behind heredity and variation! The modules were user-friendly and interesting. I liked how progress on the SciPack automatically saves so users can work on their own time. The content was written in a way that made it easy to understand, and the activities supported the content well! I would definitely recommend this SciPack for those who need to learn more about this topic or for those who simply need a refresher!

Kenna Sullivan
Kenna Sullivan

  • on Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:53 PM

This SciPack was very informative and easy to use. I love how there is audio provided, so viewers may listen to the SciPack reading and follow along, rather than just reading for the whole 10 or more hours needed to complete the assignment. Everything was easily explained and easy to follow. I would have no problem with a student being assigned this work or even using another SciPack to broaden my own knowledge of another topic.

Misty Wilson
Misty Wilson

  • on Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:19 AM

I have always loved genetics so this SciPack caught my attention first thing. This SciPack was really informative and a great refresher for me. It is very helpful and I learned a lot! I know the students would enjoy it and it would present a fun challenge for them.


  • on Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:02 PM

This SciPack was really informative and a great refresher for me. I liked how the material made real-world connections. It is very helpful and I learned a lot!

Kia Shields
Kia Shields

  • on Thu Jul 20, 2017 11:57 PM

This SciPack was a great refresher for me. It also provides useful interactives for me to use with my students.

Kimberly  (Mililani, HI)
Kimberly (Mililani, HI)

  • on Tue Jun 27, 2017 12:13 AM

I love how it gives some great ideas on how to use technology to further the student's knowledge and interest. "Now, through the use of technology and our current understanding of the DNA molecule, scientists can study individual genes and a gene’s impact on the inheritance of traits." Students have researched how we have the ability to choose the gender and pick traits they want their offspring to have. This can make for some really interesting conversations even at the elementary level.

Kim Rivera  (Midlothian, TX)
Kim Rivera (Midlothian, TX)

  • on Fri Mar 31, 2017 10:37 PM

I chose this SciPack because I have always been interested in heredity and the various components that play a part in how it appropriately works. Overall, I really enjoyed this SciPack. I felt that it was very informational as well as interactive. I enjoyed learning more in depth about heredity and offspring, and I felt that the topics were organized in a very sensible way. I was able to piece together all of the information that I had learned and taken notes over when completing my final assessment and it made me realize that I was able to really put my knowledge to the test. I loved the interactive websites included for each topic, they were actually very entertaining. When I began this SciPack I was nervous and intimidated simply because I have never done well in Science throughout my academic career, but I definitely believe that this website and the creation of these SciPacks can be very beneficial for students depending on the age group. Overall, I would suggest this for teachers as well as my peers in order to gain knowledge over a certain topic or lesson.

Kali Lamb
Kali Lamb

  • on Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:11 PM

I like this Sci Pack. It was vey informational. I felt that it broke down the material in a less complex manner in order to help the learner. The graphics were easy to see, and very easy to follow (draw information from). I also liked how it connected the information to real life situations such as diseases around the globe, families, and even kittens. This made the material more relatable so that the learner could apply it in his or her real life. I feel that I am equipped with the right type of knowledge in order to help my students learn about heredity. Overall, I felt this was a very helpful and informational Sci Pack, and I would recommend it for anyone looking to further their knowledge about heredity.

Elisha Frame
Elisha Frame

  • on Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:08 PM

I found this SciPack very informative. It started by explaining basic knowledge and then expanded on those areas to emphasis the importance of particular areas. This SciPack helped me refresh my knowledge on Mitosis and Meiosis.

Madison McMahan
Madison McMahan

  • on Mon Feb 06, 2017 9:50 PM

This SciPack is very helpful if you want to broaden your knowledge of Heredity and Variation. I really enjoyed how organized the course was. It was easy to follow and easy to navigate. I like how it gives me the options of learning it visually, auditory, and/or kinetically. Even though it is quite long, it did a great job breaking the information down into sections. I appreciate how it provides numerous activities and quizzes for me to test my knowledge throughout the course. This course is useful for teachers and students because they can go back to this course whenever they want. This is great for people who does not know much about Heredity and Variation. But, if you are a person who is an expert at it, then this would be more of a review for you. Overall, this SciPack is useful and I would recommend it to anyone that wants to learn more.

Ruth T
Ruth T

  • on Sat Sep 03, 2016 5:25 PM

This is a great resource to expand your knowledge of Heredity and Variation! The layout of the course is very easy to follow and lets you know how much of the course you have worked through. It uses a variety of ways to teach you so it isn't just reading paragraph after paragraph. It is an interactive course through the use of activities and questions. It starts off with the basic information about genetics and builds upon itself to explore more complex concepts relating to the subject. You can go back at any time if you need to refresh yourself up on a specific topic in the course. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about this subject!

Baylee B
Baylee B

  • on Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:31 PM

The structure of the SciPacks really help me understand the underlying concepts that surround each topic. I had a lot of fear of science before learning about the NSTA Learning Center, and Initially, I was unsure of how well I'd grasp scientific concepts in a self-paced, online format. However, the carefully sequenced topics, interactive activities and simulations, in addition to the voice-over explanations work well together to help deepen my understanding in the content area. Especially valuable are the pedagogical implications and common student misconceptions. I feel a lot more knowledgeable about a subject after using a SciPack, and I highly recommend the Heredity and Variation SciPack to anyone needing to learn more about this topic.

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Thu May 01, 2014 9:56 PM

I really enjoyed this SciPack!! It's full of great information, simulations and pictures. I really enjoyed this SciPack and it's worth your time.

Jessica Minton  (Collierville, TN)
Jessica Minton (Collierville, TN)

  • on Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:09 PM

Great source for new or veteran teachers!!

James  (El Paso, TX)
James (El Paso, TX)

  • on Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:42 PM

Very detailed, incisive and with relevant examples on essential concepts.

Olukayode Banmeke  (Riverdale, MD)
Olukayode Banmeke (Riverdale, MD)

  • on Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:51 PM

This SciPack did an excellent job of challenging my current understanding of genetics and heredity. I teach Biology and thought that it would not require much thought. I was wrong. I would recommend this resource to anyone who would like either an in-depth refresher of modern genetics, or a deeper look at something they have a more limited background on.

Cris D
Cris D

  • on Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:53 PM

I ran part of this SciPack to my students via Promethean Board and I was really amazed at how interested they were at the different activities and the interactive activities. Some of the kids I was having the hardest time reaching were the most interested! One kid who chronically sleeps through part of the class scooted up to the front and had numerous questions. Homerun!

James Johnson  (Custer City, PA)
James Johnson (Custer City, PA)

  • on Sat Oct 26, 2019 3:30 PM

I found this SciPack to be a good refresher on genetics. I did feel that it was repetitive at times, but the quiz checks throughout were helpful. I would recommend this to other teachers.


  • on Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:13 AM

The material was very interesting and informative, yet engaging. This would be a good resource when first introducing these types of topics. There was a nice mix of basic information while also going into depth on some areas. Overall it was a nice read!

Natalie  (Murrieta, CA)
Natalie (Murrieta, CA)

  • on Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:25 PM

I have always enjoyed learning about Heredity, but this expanded my knowledge on the subject so much more! I enjoyed learning more about mitosis, meiosis, and mutations!

Paxton Riddle
Paxton Riddle

  • on Fri Feb 03, 2017 10:52 AM

I really enjoyed this particular SciPack. It went into great detail about where the idea of heredity got started. It was particular beneficial to complete the quizzes throughout the SciPack. I also liked having the option of the information being read to me or that I could read the information myself. Great information and well organized!

Maggie W
Maggie W

  • on Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:12 AM

This SciPack is a great resource to use to learn about heredity and variation! There were areas where the material was hard to follow and stay engaged with, but the interactive activities really helped combat that. It delved into the history of heredity and then expanded on the different aspects of it. I had previous knowledge on heredity, but this SciPack was a really good refresher over the topic. Overall, a great tool!

Hillary Huffer
Hillary Huffer

  • on Mon Oct 03, 2016 4:28 PM

I really learned a lot from this SciPack. There was a ton of good information, some basic and some more in depth.

Courtney H
Courtney H

  • on Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:08 PM

Want to know more about how to introduce this topic? Very good resource to increase content knowledge and improve pedagogy too!

Marty Erskine
Marty Erskine

  • on Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:31 AM

This was a great basic overview of heredity and variation. I feel it was geared more towards a middle school level. I would recommend that you seek additional support material if you are teaching high school genetics for the first time.


  • on Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:05 PM

The Heredity and Variation SciPack covers the major topics that would be covered in a typical genetics unit in high school biology, though not in great depth. It serves as a nice refresher, but if you want to dig deeper you'll be disappointed.

Rebecca F  (Elizabeth, WV)
Rebecca F (Elizabeth, WV)

  • on Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:41 PM

I found this SciPack to be very repetitive but still engaging. Each time the same topic was brought up it was introduced in a different way which helped me to grasp the information more quickly and really understand deeper what it was I was trying to learn.

Andrea Gouldy  (Granbury, TX)
Andrea Gouldy (Granbury, TX)

  • on Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:07 AM

I found this SciPack to be interesting, but a bit repetitive at times. The information would also jump around to various topics instead of in a linear or progressing fashion. I feel like some subject belonged to their own SciPack rather than altogether. I also wish the interactives were more interesting and engaging. I found myself confused at times on how the interactive directly related to what I had just read. Also, some of the interactives did not work for me, which was disappointing, because I learn well through getting to kinesthetically work with the content. Beyond all of these small issues I had, I still learned much about heredity and variance. I learned new content and had a great refresher on things I had learned years ago. Overall, it was still a great SciPack.

Savannah Huff
Savannah Huff

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