Idea for Use in Classroom

Introduce the infographic to students by asking the following questions:

  1. What does the title of the infographic mean?
  2. Trace the DNA trail. What does it show?
  3. Which organisms do we share the most genes with? The least?
  4. In what ways could understanding common genes be useful to us?

Venn Diagram Challenge

Assign pairs of students one of the organisms on the infographic. Each pair should identify general characteristics of the organism and of a human as seen in the infographic drawings and then use these characteristics to complete a Venn Diagram.  Characteristics shared by both should be placed within the overlapping circles. Students may use outside research to find additional similarities or differences in physical characteristics between their assigned organism and a human.

Once completed, have students present their Venn Diagrams. As a class, have students arrange their Venn Diagrams in order from least to greatest amount of common traits. Students can compare their sequence of Venn Diagrams to the infographic, and then discuss why the sequences may or may not align.

The Platypus

As an extension, students can use the infographic to investigate the sequence of species between the chicken and dog. Have students research the classification of each organism (e.g. mammal, fish, bird) and then use this information to consider why the sequence of species might be surprising. Highlight the unique genome of the platypus to help students understand why it is not closer to the other mammals in the sequence.

DNA
Noun

(deoxyribonucleic acid) molecule in every living organism that contains specific genetic information on that organism.

gene
Noun

part of DNA that is the basic unit of heredity.

genetic
Adjective

having to do with genes, inherited characteristics or heredity.

organism
Noun

living or once-living thing.