Lesson Plan

Genetics and Adaptations

hot pink bloom on pricklypear cactus

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
State Standards:
Utah Core Curriculum
Seventh Grade Science
Standard 4: Objective 1, Objective 2


Activities focus on how different plants living in Zion National Park use inheritable traits to adapt to their environment.


This guide contains background information about genetics, and directions for three activities that will help students better understand how inheritable traits help plants and animals survive in Zion National Park. The activities are most beneficial to students when completed in order. This guide is specifically designed for seventh grade classrooms, but the activities can be modified for students at other levels.


  • Download and review Genetics and Adaptations Activity Guide
  • Download and print activity materials
  • Gather beans, containers, paper, and art supplies as necessary


Genetics and Adaptations Activity Guide

Download Genetics and Adaptations Activity Guide

Crossing Cacti Activity Materials

Download Crossing Cacti

Adaptation Art Activity Materials

Download Adaptation Art

Survival Scenarios Activity Materials

Download Survival Scenarios

Lesson Hook/Preview

The basics of genetics and heredity allow certain plants and animals to become specially adapted, depending on which traits help them best survive in their habitat. In Zion National Park, a diverse array of plants and animals inhabit the varying environments in the park. The variety of environments, from the river and springs, to dry grasslands, to steep cliffs, is a result of the wide range of elevations in the park and the fact that Zion is located on the edge of three major ecoregions: the Mojave Desert, the Colorado Plateau, and the Great Basin. While some organisms, such as mountain lions, can survive in all of Zion’s habitats, others like cacti, frogs, and pinyon pine trees, thrive in only one or two of Zion’s environments.


Follow suggested procedures within the activity guide.


Glossary available in activity guide.

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Last updated: March 17, 2016