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Key Ideas

  • Members of an animal or plant species have distinctive characteristics, or traits, in common.
  • Within a species, individuals have variations that are examples of diversity.
  • Members of a species produce offspring that have characteristics similar to the parents.
  • Geneticists study the biological causes of continuity and diversity among living things.


Students are asked to observe their classmates and identify characteristics, or traits, common to all humans and variations of these traits that are examples of diversity among humans. Students explore variation in eye width and wrist circumference. They make a personal set of fingerprints in order to compare and contrast variations among individuals. They reflect on and discuss genetics as the study of continuity and diversity among living things and propose reasons for the importance of learning about genetics.



\checkmark identify characteristics, or traits, common to humans.

\checkmark distinguish among variations as examples of human diversity.

\checkmark explain what genetics is and why it is important to learn about human genetics.


characteristics, continuity, diversity, genetics, species, trait, variation

Student Materials

Activity 1-1: Fingerprinting

  • Activity Report
  • Stamp pad; Magnifying glass; Metric ruler; Clear tape; Paper towels and soap, or packaged hand wipes

Teacher Materials

Activity 1-1: Fingerprinting

  • Activity Report Answer Key
  • Calculator; Graph paper; White paper for students to make extra fingerprints for story (Language Arts); Extra student materials, especially ink for pads

Advance Preparation

See Activity 1-1 in the student edition

Gather one set of student materials for each group of students.

Advise students to wear old clothes in case they get ink on their clothes. Also have large, old shirts available if students wish to put them on over their regular clothing.

Coordinate interdisciplinary activities with other teachers.

Interdisciplinary Connections

Social Studies Cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity can be investigated and discussed.

Math Use graphing activities, particularly pie graphs and bar graphs to present data illustrating variations and similarities among individuals of a species. Calculate the frequency of each fingerprint pattern and create a graph to depict this information.

Language Arts Write a story describing personal traits and unique interests. Illustrate this story using a “fingerprint character” designed from the students' own fingerprints to which arm, legs and other human traits have been added.

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Date Created:

Feb 23, 2012

Last Modified:

Apr 29, 2014
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