Take the test?

lesson1Genetic tests can be used to determine whether a person is a carrier of a genetic condition – but is having a test always the best thing to do? In this lesson the students are presented with an intriguing dilemma about whether a boy should have a screening test after his fiancée has found out she is a carrier of sickle cell disease. Students use information presented by experts to weigh up the options and come to a reasoned decision.

Learning objectives

  • Use knowledge about inheritance to interpret genetic diagrams, including family trees.
  • Make a decision by identifying issues that need to be considered in choosing to have a genetic test.

Try the activity

Take the Test all in one

Size: 5.34 MB

Curriculum link

England National Curriculum KS3:

  • Working Scientifically:  Make decisions based on the evaluation of evidence and arguments.
  • Biology: Inheritance, chromosomes, DNA and genes: heredity as the process by which genetic information is transmitted from one generation to the next.

GCSE Combined Science subject content:

  • Working Scientifically:  Development of scientific thinking: explain everyday and technological applications of science; evaluate associated personal, social, economic and environmental implications; and make decisions based on the evaluation of evidence and arguments.
  • Biology: Inheritance: explain single gene inheritance, predict the results of single gene crosses.

Running the activity

Engage 1 The students are introduced to Matt’s dilemma and find out about sickle cell disease.
Engage 2 Students arrive at a set of questions that they need to find the answers to in order to make an informed decision.
Explore 1 Students start answering the questions with guidance.
Explore 2 Students work independently to find answers to the remaining questions
Explain As a class, discuss their findings
Evaluate Students make their decision
For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.



The video which introduces the students to Matt’s dilemma.

Life with sickle cell disease

Video clip which shows first-hand the pain associated with the disease

What is a screening test?

Liz Aram discusses what happens during a screening test for sickle cell disease.