National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
Search Lesson Plans & Companion Resources
6 - 8
Students learn about apple genetics related to production through a hands-on activity exploring the characteristics of apple varieties. Students will apply their knowledge of heredity and genetics to discover how new varieties of apples are developed through cross-breeding techniques.
- Apple Genetics PowerPoint
- Apple Genetics worksheet, 1 per student
Per Group of 2 or more:
- 1 Paper Plate
- 1 Whole Braeburn Apple
- 1 Whole Royal Gala Apple
- 1 Whole Jazz Apple
- Do not substitute the apple varieties. Jazz apples can be found at most grocery stores.
- 1 Knife (to cut apple)
- 1 Sheet of Paper (Printer or Notebook paper)
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
- SpongeBob Genetics worksheet (optional Enriching Activity)
- Apple Genetics worksheet
- Apple Genetics worksheet: Teacher Key
- Apple Genetics PowerPoint
homozygous: having two identical alleles for a trait.
heterozygous: having 2 different alleles for a trait.
gene: a section of DNA that codes for a certain trait
allele: a variant of a gene
dominant allele: an allele whose trait always shows up in the organism when the allele is present (written as uppercase letter)
recessive allele: an allele that is masked when a dominant allele is present (written as lower case letter)
genotype: an organism's genetic makeup or allele combinations
phenotype: an organism's physical appearance or visible trait
trait: a characteristic that an organism can pass on to its offspring through its genes
Punnet Square: a diagram used to predict an outcome of a particular cross or breeding experiment
probability: a number that describes how likely it is that an event will occur
heredity: the passing of traits from parents to offspring
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Apples are a member of the rose family.1
- More than 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States, but only the crabapple is native to North America.1
- The average person eats 65 apples a year.1
- Apples are 25% air, which is why they float in water.1
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Ask students what their favorite apple is. Ask them why that is their favorite apple and lead into a discussion about various apple traits such as sweetness, tartness, flavor, crunchiness, color, etc. You may even consider having students bring their favorite apple to class.
- Play the first minute from the podcast "The Miracle Apple."
- Use slide 2 of the attached Apple Genetics PowerPoint to give students a brief background on apple production in the United States and world.
- Share interesting facts about apples (slide 3) with students to give them some general background about this agricultural product.
- Highlight the nutritional benefits of apples (slide 4). Encourage students to eat an apple as a snack.
- Bring up the original question about students’ favorite apples. Using slide 5, show students a few different varieties of apples. Ask students if they prefer their apples to be sweet or tart.
- Continue playing the "The Miracle Apple" podcast from the one minute mark to the six minute mark.
- Introduce the concept of grafting. Make sure students realize that most apple trees are not grown from seed. (slide 6.)
- Ask your students, "How were multiple varieties of apples developed... each with a different color, texture, and taste?" Allow students to offer their ideas using their prior knowledge and inform them that they will be learning the answer to this question.
- Give each student a copy of the Apple Genetics worksheet.
- Be sure to wash all apples prior to distributing them to the students.
- Per group of 2 or more students, hand out:
- 1 paper plate (this will be the cutting board as well as an area to keep the apples)
- 1 Braeburn Apple and 1 Royal Gala Apple (Note: DO NOT hand out the Jazz apple).
- 1 knife (or have apples already pre-sliced)
- 1 sheet of paper (This is where students are able to place seeds or other apple particles).
- Have students draw a line down the center of their paper plate and label each side with "Gala" or "Braeburn." The apples will look similar, so it will be important to avoid confusing the two apples.
- Have students complete "Part 1" of the worksheet by making observations and recording them for both the Royal Gala and Braeburn apples in the following order (slide 8):
- Look, Smell, Touch OUTSIDE of the apple
- Cut open and Look, Smell, Touch the INSIDE of the apple
- To cut the apple: Have students hold their apples so the stems are pointing towards them (laying on their side) slice open the apples with a crosscut. Then, have students cut their apple again so that it is now quartered.
- Finally, Taste the apple
- After Students have recorded their observations in "Part 1," they should move onto "Part 2: Analyzing the Data" where students will find the similarities and differences found between the 2 apples. Facilitate a group discussion using slide 9 so students can share their findings.
- Review basic genetics vocabulary with students using slide 10. Make sure students are familiar with terms. Instruct them that they will be applying genetics knowledge to apple situations.
- In "Part 3" of the worksheet, students will review the possible genotypes of the Gala and Braeburn apples. These genotypes can be found on the worksheet and slide 11 of the PowerPoint.
- Assign students to complete the Punnett Squares on page three of the worksheet. Students will determine the possible probabilities for the genotypes of six apple traits.
- Continue playing the "The Miracle Apple" podcast from the six minute mark to the 7:16 minute/second mark.
- Hand out the Jazz apple. Students will follow the same procedure and complete "Part 4" of the worksheet.
- Once completed with the observations for the Jazz apple have students use their previous data from the Royal Gala and Braeburn apples and the observations from the Jazz apple to find out how they are connected through genetic crossing. Facilitate a class discussion using slide 14. Students will record findings on "Part 5" of worksheet.
- Reveal to the students that the Jazz apple is a cross between the Gala and Braeburn apple. Using slide 15, share a few more facts about the Jazz Apple.
- Talk about the concept of crossbreeding and how it is used to produce better quality organisms on slide 16.
- The Honeycrisp apple was also developed by crossbreeding, and it is a competitor of the Jazz apple. Share some facts from slide 17 with students.
- Continue playing the "The Miracle Apple" podcast from the 7:21 minute mark to the end of the story, 10:06 minutes.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation:
After completing these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Apples are a healthy snack containing fiber and vitamin C.
- In apples, characteristics such as color, texture, sweetness/tartness, juiciness, and crunchiness are determined by the genetic make-up of the apple.
- Scientists use a knowledge of genetics and heredity to cross breed apples to produce new varieties of apples. The Jazz apple is an example.
- Continue playing the "The Miracle Apple" podcast from the 7:21 minute mark to the end of the story, 13:57 minutes.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Show the 4-minute video clip, Have We Engineered The Perfect Apple? to see the science behind the taste of the Honeycrisp apple.
If students need additional practice with completing Punnet Squares, complete the attached SpongeBob Genetics worksheet found in the Essential Files.
If cut apples are in the room at the end of the lesson, ask students if they see any browning occurring. Discuss what causes this. Teach students about Arctic apples, a genetically modified apple which does not brown.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Selectively Breeding Sheep: Punnet Square Practice (Activity)
- Crop Modification Techniques (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- Have We Engineered the Perfect Apple? video (Multimedia)
- Garden Genetics: Teaching With Edible Plants (Teacher Reference)
- All About Apples (Website)
- DNA Learning Center (Website)
- Genetic Science Learning Center (Website)
- Producepedia (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Food, Health, and Lifestyle
- Identify agricultural products (foods) that provide valuable nutrients for a balanced diet (T3.6-8.g)
Science, Technology, Engineering & Math
- Describe how biological processes influence and are leveraged in agricultural production and processing (e.g., photosynthesis, fermentation, cell division, heredity/genetics, nitrogen fixation) (T4.6-8.b)
Education Content Standards
Biotechnology Systems Career Pathway
BS.03.04Apply biotechnology principles, techniques and processes to enhance plant and animal care and production (e.g., selective breeding, pharmaceuticals, biodiversity, etc.).
MS-LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
MS-LS4-4Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
MS-LS4-5Gather and synthesize information about technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
Mathematics: Practice Standards
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP2Reason abstractly and quantitatively. Students make sense of quantities and their relationships in problem situations. They bring two complementary abilities to bear on problems involving quantitative relationships: the ability to decontextualize—to abstract a given situation and represent it symbolically and manipulate the representing symbols as if they have a life of their own, without necessarily attending to their referents—and the ability to contextualize, to pause as needed during the manipulation process in order to probe into the referents for the symbols involved. Quantitative reasoning entails habits of creating a coherent representation of the problem at hand; considering the units involved; attending to the meaning of quantities, not just how to compute them; and knowing and flexibly using different properties of operations and objects.
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP4Model with mathematics. Students can apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace. Students who can apply what they know are comfortable making assumptions and approximations to simplify a complicated situation, realizing that these may need revision later. They are able to identify important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using such tools as diagrams, two-way tables, graphs, flowcharts and formulas. They can analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions.