Sex Determination Exercise

This exercise is intended to help students understand the role of transcription factors and enhancers in differentiation in general and with sex determination specifically. Students will put events in order for male and female sex determination. Note that students do not need to know anything about sex determination to complete the exercise (but they learn t as they play), but they should have been exposed to the concepts of enhancers and transcription factors

Instructions for Sex Determination Game

Sex Determination Game

Sequence Games

In order to help students understand biological processes, I have developed several “sequence” games. In these games, students try to put several events in order. Several of them require little or no understanding of the particular process, the students are able to use logic to figure out the correct order.

Activity 1 Introduction to Meiosis

I give this activity before any discussion of meiosis.  The students are able to understand basic concepts of meiosis without being told anything about how meiosis works.

In this activity cards representing different stages of meiosis (and the preceding interphase) are arranged in order.  The original cell has an X chromosome (long) and and a Y chromosome (short) which makes it easier to determine what is happening at each stage.

Preparation.   The game cards powerpoint has cards that can be printed out on card stock.  Each group of 3-4 students should get one set and one set of instructions ( The Meiosis activity document below).

Prior to the exercise, I go over what happens to the X and Y chromosomes in mitosis using the same type of diagrams.  This is shown below


Introduction to Meiosis

Introduction to meiosis description

Activity 2 steps in Meiosis

This activity is an activity that has 2 purposes

(1) To help students integrate genetics and meiosis

(2)  To help students understand the order and relationship between events in Meiosis

The activity is a game based loosely on Timeline a commercial game in which players attempt to put historical events in order.

In this game, students form teams of 2-3 players. The players start with 2 cards describing events of meiosis. The students must put these in the correct order. Once this students have attempted this, they check the first page of a key that tells then whether they are correct. If they are, they get a point. The team then goes to the next card and  tries to order the event with respect to the first 2 cards.  The students check the key as before. There are a total of 9 cards and the task becomes more difficult as there are more choices at each step.

A sample is shown below. B and b represent 2 different alleles. The separation indicates that the 2 alleles on not on chromosomes connected by a centromere. The students are urged to draw out the description and then put the card into interphase, Meiosis 1, or Meiosis 2.


This task is recommended for college students or advanced high school students. While the task is challenging, typically 1/3 to 1/2 of the teams will get a perfect score (15/15) in about 20 minutes.

Below are the game components including the cards, the key and the game rules

Game Cards for meiosis game


Card Key

Note: The card key is printed at one slide per page and then stapled to make a booklet. To save paper, one can print this at 3 slides per page and cut out each slide and staple into a book.

Below is a somewhat simpler game with the same rules.

Meiosis Game Basic

Key for Meiosis Basic game

Rules for The Basic Meiosis Game

Here is an electronic version of the game above

Meiosis Game

Activity 3 Steps in Respiration

Here is a  game to help students understand respiration.  Teams of students will get points for putting  steps of respiration in the correct order.

The game includes a set of rules, game cards and a key




Activity 4 Insulin Signal Transduction

In this activity, students put steps in insulin signalling in order.  The students can accomplish this with limited knowledge of this process. However, it helps to have been introduced to membrane transport and macromolecule biosynthesis. The activity will then reinforce what they know they know about these processes. For example, after completion of this activity students are asked about how conversion of glucose to glycogen affects the concentration gradient of glucose from the blood to the cell. This question and others are in the worksheet that is listed below.

The cards are here

Insulin Game cards

There are 2 ways to play the game. The first is best used when students have had no exposure to the material, the second can be used as review.

In the first  version, all of the cards are placed face up and the students put them in order. The letters in the front are ignored, but the back of the cards are marked with the letters to spell “Great Job” when the cards are put in the correct order. You can make this exercise a race in which the first team to get the cards in correct order wins.

The second game uses the same cards The rules and key are shown below

Rules for Insulin Signalling Game 2

Insulin Game cards key

The key should be printed out and each step should be a separate page. The whole key is then stapled together and the students turn one page at a time to check whether they have done the exercise correctly.

Unit 2 review and quiz makeup


In order to make up quiz points, do the activities below and make sure you follow the directions. When you are done, use the “leave reply” space to  comment on the activities (Which ones were helpful, which ones were not as helpful and whether this format is preferable or not to having the activities all in D2l). Note that I have to approve the comments, so they will not appear right away.

1. Click on the link  (cells) and go through the cell review lecture

2. Go this worksheet and follow the directions

Unit 2 Group Worksheet

4. Go to the quiz, answer the questions. When you are finished, you will get a certificate. Download and print out the certificate and give it to me during class or take a screenshot and e-mail me the certificate.

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