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Karyotype Station Activities

If you’ve scoured the internet looking for fun Karyotype activities like I have, you know they are few and far between. Most activities involve students cutting out 23 chromosomes, finding the homologous pair on a worksheet, and gluing them together. This activity ends with paper scraps everywhere, missing chromosomes, and frustrated students.

My goal was to create a station activity where students could rotate around the room and analyze and manipulate different karyotypes. I also found some great resources from Ward’s Science that I used to supplement the activity. Student groups had 5 minutes at each station to complete a karyotype related task. Here are some station activity ideas:


Patient Diagnosis
On U of A’s website, there is a virtual karyotype activity with 3 patients. Students need to click on each patient, fill in the missing homologous chromosome, and give a diagnosis for each patient. You can check out the website by clicking here.


Karyotype Virtual Lab
In this virtual lab from University of Utah, students pair up the chromosomes on the left with their homologous pair on the right. It’s a bit harder than the U of A one, but there is a hints option if students get stuck.

Youtube Video
At this station, students will watch a Youtube video and answer a few questions. This video reviews genes, chromosomes, and karyotypes.


Human Genome Analysis
When the human genome project was completed, the genes on each chromosome were mapped out and they came out with these nifty (and free!) science posters. On their website, you can click on any chromosome, print out the pdf, and have students observe what traits are found on each chromosome. I printed out a few and had students look for traits they have or run in their family.


Magnetic Chromosomes
I ordered giant magnetic pictures of human chromosomes from Ward’s Science (you can purchase them here). At this station, students came up to the front whiteboard where I had 23 of the chromosomes lined up. Their task was to arrange the homologous chromosomes and decide if it is a male or female, and healthy or abnormal.
I love these magnets because they can be used throughout the whole unit, not just for this lesson- makes them worth every penny! You can use them when discussing cell division as well. They are large, easy to see, and students love coming up to play with them at the end of class.

Microscope Slide Observations
At this station, students observed a human karyotype smear under the microscope and made observations. If you don’t already have karyotype slides, you can purchase them from Ward’s Science. Students will be surprised how small the chromosomes are! (the picture shown is on 100x magnification). They will quickly see that in real life, pairing up homologous chromosomes and looking for abnormalities is not nearly as easy as it looks on the virtual labs.



If you’d like to check out the full activity that includes 8 stations and student lab write-up, you can download it here. I’ve also included multiple options for different stations in case you don’t have access to the slides or magnetic chromosomes.

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Hi, I'm Becca!

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