Biological Form and Function

Lesson Title: Form and Function Lab, Part 3: Genetic
Academic Standards: HS-LS1-2; HS-LS1-3; HS_LS1-4; HS-LS3-1
Content Creator: Mrs. Wendy Martin
Level: High School
Duration: 30-40 min
  /  Form and Function Lab, Part 3: Genetic


  • Define biological form and function.
  • Understand the role of chromosomes and DNA in protein synthesis.
  • Understand how a protein's unique structure determines its function.
  • Understand how a mutation can change a protein's structure and function.
  • Describe sickle cell anemia.


This lesson will focus on genetics and the concept of protein synthesis. Students will learn the role that DNA has in protein synthesis. They will understand how a protein’s unique structure will determine its function. Students will be able to manipulate a hemoglobin protein model and look at its specific structure. Also discussed will be mutations in a DNA sequence and how this may alter the protein product. Focus will be on normal red blood cells versus sickled red blood cells. Students will take a field trip to a high school blood drive to discuss blood cells.


  1. Start class with a field trip to a blood drive where normal blood cells vs sickled blood cell will be discussed.
  2. After trip, explain the basics of protein synthesis.
  3. The Central Dogma of protein synthesis states that DNA is converted to an mRNA copy which is then used to construct a protein.
  4. Give students a hemoglobin model to manipulate. Explain its unique structure and what it does in the body.
  5. Give students a healthy red blood cell to manipulate. Explain its role in the body.
  6. Define mutation and give examples.
  7. Demonstrate a mutation that can occur in hemoglobin.
  8. Give students a sickled cell. Explain how it is detrimental.
  9. Show video clip of sickle cell.
  10. End class with other examples of mutations that can occur in the body. Explain how the change in structure can lead to a change in function. For example: cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, and tay sachs.

Suggested Ancillary Support

1. Identify the parts of the cell involved in protein synthesis: nucleus, chromosomes, cytoplasm, ribosomes. 2. Define mutation as a change in the DNA sequence. 3. Explain that most mutations are silent, meaning that they have no major affect on the protein's structure. 4. Give several examples of human disease that are the result of mutations: cystic fibrosis, sickle cell, hemophilia, tay sachs. Discuss symptoms. 5. Define the word denature which means the unraveling or unshaping of a protein when conditions become unfavorable. It will affect its function. 6. Explain the Central Dogma of protein synthesis.  Transcription of DNA into mRNA in the nucleus. Translation of mRNA into a protein in the cytoplasm on ribosomes. 7. Explain the suggested origin of sickle cell anemia in Africa. 8. Explain how it can offer resistance to malaria. 9. Discuss the basic function of the circulatory system and how sickle cell alters this.