Karyotype Lesson Plan

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

Karyotyping is a very useful tool to help diagnose chromosomal disorders. Your students will learn about karyotypes and disorders as they watch a video and draw karyotypes for chromosomal disorders.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define karyotype
  • identify a normal karyogram
  • describe differences in karyotypes in persons with chromosomal disorders


1.5 - 2 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • HS-LS1-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins, which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.


  • Computer with projector
  • Student computers
  • Copies of the lesson worksheet
  • Index cards with the name of a different chromosomal disorder on each one
  • Legal sized printer paper
  • Colored pencils
  • Copies of a normal karyogram


  • Start this lesson by asking your students to tell you how their hair or eye color was determined. (They should mention something about it coming from their DNA.)
  • Tell your students that scientists are able to look at their DNA and analyze it to determine characteristics. Scientists can look at each piece of DNA or they can look at an overall picture of their DNA.
  • Let your students know they are going to learn more about how scientists look at the big picture of their DNA as they watch the Karyotype: Definition, Disorders, & Analysis video.
  • Play the video for your students and pause it periodically for discussions.
  • Start the video from the beginning and pause it the first time at 0:40 to ask and discuss the following:
    • What is a chromosome?
    • What is a karyotype?
    • How do scientists determine a karyotype?
  • Continue playing the video and pause it again at 2:04 to ask and discuss the following:
    • What is a karyogram?
    • Why do scientists use karyograms?
    • What is the normal number of autosomes?
    • What type of chromosomes are the last two chromosomes in a karyotype?
  • Continue playing the video for your students and pause it one last time at 3:19 to ask and discuss the following:
    • What type of chromosomal abnormality results in a longer than usual chromosome?
    • What is translocation?
    • What are the other two types of chromosomal abnormalities?
  • Play the remainder of the video for your students and answer any questions they have at this point.

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