Featured in PASCO’s Advanced Biology through Inquiry Teacher Guide
This manual features 22 challenging, standards-based, inquiry lab activities for AP, IB, and honors programs.
Students follow the growth and development of Wisconsin Fast Plants and determine if limiting cross-pollination to certain plants with a desired trait affects the frequency of that trait in the second generation.
Students follow the growth and development of Wisconsin Fast Plants® (a variety of Brassica rapa) through two generations. These plants have a short life cycle, can be grown easily in the classroom, and offer an assortment of traits students can readily observe. Quantitative traits, such as height, trichome hairs, and number of true leaves, offer students an opportunity to apply statistics to describe the range and variation in these traits in a population. Unlike discrete traits, such as flower color, quantitative traits are continuous in a population and are typically represented in histograms (frequency graphs).
In the Initial Investigation, students measure the height and one additional quantitative trait of their choice. They then select a small proportion of plants to cross-pollinate and determine if the selection of plants based on a certain trait affects the frequency of the trait in the subsequent generation. The study of a real population, and the time invested in tending and growing two generations of plants, is invaluable in helping students develop true science process skills, especially the application of descriptive statistics to data. This lab is less about students obtaining a predicted set of results than it is about students engaging in the process of scientific inquiry. After they gain skills in growing the Fast Plants® and using statistics to make meaning of data, students can design and carry out an experiment of their own design.
This experiment may require software and an interface for data collection.