Genes and Eyes’ Colour

Biological Sciences

Hello and welcome to this WebQuest!

Have you ever wondered why you have (or have not) inherited certain physical traits from your mother or your father? Have you felt pity that you haven’t gotten your grandpa’s blue eyes or your aunt’s wonderful curly hair? Would you like to predict what could be the eye colour of your children?

In this WebQuest, you will find answers to some of these questions immersing yourself in the wonderful world of genetics.

But before that, here are a few things you will need to know:

The goal of this WebQuest is to help you discover the wonderful world of genetics that connects you with your ancestors, as well as with your future children by taking part in a game.

This WebQuest is best executed within a group of 5 to 10 people, however, it requires a great deal of individual work. Each of you should select ten pairs of a famous person and their children and make a Punnet square that explains how the eye colour was inherited. After doing this you should predict what is the eye colour of the ‘missing’ parent. Then you should check if your Punnet square calculations were right by finding his/her photo.


At this step, each learner needs to use the online resources for this Webquest and research how physical characteristics are inherited.
They can start by watching this video explaining the essence of genetics: 

and continue with these short articles:

Well, now you know that every physical characteristic is coded in the DNA of every cell of your body. Now you have to discover how exactly genetic information determines specific features, such as eye colour and the following links could help you in this:

So, brown eyes have their colour due to melanin. And when little or no melanin is produced you get blue eyes. It is due to a specific mutation that appeared thousands of years ago and scientists say that maybe all blue-eyed people have one common ancestor:


The eye colour is a specific phenotype and behind it may be hidden different genotypes. Follow the links to understand how this works:
Understanding dominant and recessive traits explain how brown-eyed parents can have a blue-eyed child.

To do this you need a simple tool called Punnet square. The following links will help you understand how it works:

Did you get it? In а given scenario (one parent is heterozygous for brown and blue eye alleles and one is homozygous for blue eyes), their child has a 50% chance of having blue eyes.

Of course, brown and blue are not the only eye colours and Punnet squares can be more complicated:

However, in most cases, Punnet squares work pretty well when it comes to eye colour.

At this stage, learners should work in groups of 5 to 10 people and choose 10 pairs of celebrities and their children. Punnet squares should be prepared for each of them identifying the possible genetic combinations resulting in the specific eye phenotype. For example, if a celebrity has brown eyes his/her genotype could be BB or Bb. However, if his/her child has blue eyes, then you know for certain that the genotype of your celebrity is Bb. In this case, the other parent should be Bb (brown eyes) or bb (blue eyes). Your task is to draw Punnet squares for the chosen pairs of celebrities and their offspring calculating what could be the ‘missing’ parent’s eye colour. Then you can check your answers by finding a picture of the other parent on the internet.

You can use the following resources or make your own list of celebrities you like and their children.


So, what are the results of your investigation? Did you find any unfaithful wives? 😉

Use multimedia (PowerPoint, Prezi, other tools) to present your findings. Try to find photos where you can see the eye colour of your chosen celebrity and his/her child clearly and be careful about contact lenses …or surgically changed eye colours (yes! It is possible nowadays!) As you know, celebrities often do such things. Make different slides for the ‘missing’ parents so that the others try to guess their eye colour before seeing the photo.

At this stage, learners should discuss to what extent the Punnet squares have been useful in defining the eye colour of the missing parent. If there are some problems, what could be the reasons?

At this stage, learners should make a Punnet square to calculate what could be the eye colour possibilities for the offsprings if they had a baby with a famous person.

Punnett Square is a good tool for thinking about dominant and recessive alleles, but it isn’t a perfect scientific model. It only works if the genes were independent of one another (situations where having a certain gene doesn’t change the probability of having another). Many different genes combine to produce a characteristic like eye colour, not just one. That’s why there are many different patterns and shades of brown, blue, green, hazel, and gray eyes.

Please, discuss, if it is reasonable to be a dualist where reality can be described in this way. As you know, eyes can be many colours but when Punnet squares work well is it reasonable to use them although we know they cannot fully describe reality?

Indeed, even the eyes of a single person could be of different colours, which is called heterochromia.

Well, if you have chosen one of these celebrities with heterochromia the Punnet square would have not been a sufficient tool.


How does the secret code of your genes work?

Punnet square

Some pictures of celebrities and their children


Through this webquest you experienced how genetics can explain some fundamental body traits, such as eye colour. The Punnet squares you used are a good tool but not a sufficient one. This is just a first step into a vast field that could fundamentally change the world as we know it. Genetics opens the door towards making ‘designer babies’ or changing entire species forever, which raises ethical problems. It could also help scientists eliminate inherited diseases and open the door towards personalized medicine. Although that physical and genetic maps of the human genome were accomplished in the mid-1990s, there are a lot of things to be explained. However, even if you cannot choose your eye colour or another physical trait, it is always good to remember that as Dean Ornish states, your genes are not your fate: 


  • Presentation skills
  • Research, gather and systematize information
  • Critical thinking


In addition, learners will:

  • acquire basic knowledge about the human genome
  • learn how to use Punnet squares
  • basic knowledge of presentation techniques
  • learn how to collaborate with others;
  • develop a sense of confidence and belief in themselves;
  • learn how to communicate effectively (using written and spoken word, non-verbal language, electronic tools, and listening skills).

Evaluation of learning achievements

In this section we will not dive very deep into the underlying educational theories about evaluation and testing: there’s too much out there than we could possibly cover in this small project report.

Instead, we want to concentrate on procedures that enable both students/pupils and their teachers to establish if the learning goals of the Webquest were achieved and, if so, to what extent. We recommend teachers make use of a combined evaluation procedure, that consists of:

  1. Statements by learners (after being asked to do so)
    • telling what they learned about the subject (knowledge-oriented self-evaluation): now (after going through the Webquest) I know that …
    • telling what he/she learned about herself/himself (formative evaluation, in this case, diagnostic self-evaluation): now (after going through the Webquest) I know about myself that I …
      This pair of basic statements add up to a so-called learner report, in which the pupil/student reflects on what the Webquest brought him/her in terms of acquired knowledge and new personal views and attitudes concerning the subject.

    For instance:

    • ‘I learned that in medieval times the hygiene of people was hardly a concern which helped to let epidemic diseases like the Plague cause so many casualties’ Or:
    • ‘I learned the facts and I know the earth is warming, but I cannot understand why people were so stupid to pollute the world and let it warm up so much.
    • ‘I learned from the information about diseases that this subject is more appealing to me than I would expect in advance: maybe I should consider a medical career’. Or:
      ‘The Webquests confirms what I thought already: I could not care less about the climate and global warming. In fact, I thought it was all a hoax and I still do!’

    This kind of assessment seems more subjective than it actually is: in his standard work on testing and evaluation (and much more), simply called Methodology (1974), Prof. A.D. de Groot described how consistent the student’s self-evaluations appeared to be: when asked again after 5 or 10 years, their evaluation would almost be the same. De Groot advised teachers to use the learner report as a start for joint evaluations, striving for consensus between teacher and student/pupil about the learning outcomes and their value for the learner, but also compared with the learning objectives as stated in the curriculum.

  2. The learning achievements are visible in the output produced by the students: it is physical evidence: reports, answers to questions asked in the Webquest, presentations, and performance during presentations (preferably recorded). The teacher completes an evaluation grid stating clearly what the learning outcomes for the student/pupil are. The categories in the grid can be modified by the teacher to cover more precisely the content of a Webquest.

    >We advise teachers to use the grid to start a joint evaluation discussion, aiming at consensus or at least understanding between the teacher and the student/pupil about the learning outcomes: were they achieved (as planned in the curriculum and communicated before the Webquest started) and to what extent? To communicate the learning goals clearly before any learning activity starts, is a transparency requirement that is widely acknowledged in the educational community. The history of making learning objectives explicit goes back to the evaluation ‘Bible’ by Bloom, Hastings and Madaus: ‘Handbook on formative and summative evaluation of student learning’ (1971), a standard work that also served as inspiration for the earlier mentioned Prof. De Groot.


The procedure also applies when students/pupils have worked together on a Webquest. The teacher will ask questions about individual contributions: ‘What did you find? What part did you write? How did you find the illustrations? Who made  the final presentation?’

All the evidence (of learning efforts and outcomes plus joint evaluations) is preferably stored in the learning portfolio of the student, or in any other suitable storage system (folders with written or printed documents, online collection of files, etcetera ).

Changes in personal points of view and feelings are harder to value and here the consensus between teacher and student/pupil about experiences during the learning process provides essential insights.

The grid below gives an example of how the evaluation of the learning process and achievements can be shaped: what kind of reactions to the Webquest does the teacher expect and how valuable are they? Is the teacher capable to explain the value or score allocated to answers or presentations given by pupils? Does the pupil/student understand the evaluation outcomes, and does he/she agree? If an agreement (consensus is not possible, it is still the teacher who decides how to value the student’s work.

Please note that the text in the grid addresses the pupil/student directly: this is important and it is in fact a prerequisite for using such an evaluation grid: it is specifically meant to enable a discussion of learning results between teacher and student and not to communicate learning achievements of learners to others who had no direct role in the Webquest.

Evaluation Grid

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Talk To Us

t: +357 2466 40 40
f: +357 2465 00 90

Funded by
sCOOL-IT erasmus logo EN

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Talk To Us

t: +357 2466 40 40
f: +357 2465 00 90

Funded by
sCOOL-IT erasmus logo EN

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Talk To Us

t: +357 2466 40 40
f: +357 2465 00 90

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