Lesson 4: Creative Science – Dragon Eggs Found in the Arctic

  1. Introduction
  2. Teach It
  3. Dig Deeper


Advances in genetics have now made it possible to cure diseases, clone organisms and even extract living cells that will yield intact DNA from the carcasses of frozen animals that lived thousands of years ago. Geneticists at Harvard University have been working to produce a mammoth-elephant hybrid by splicing the genes of a woolly mammoth with an Asian elephant since they share 99 percent of their DNA. What other animals could we find frozen under the ice that could be brought back into existence? 

In the following series of lessons, students will apply what they know about genotypes and phenotypes to creating dragons from the DNA found in frozen dragon eggs from the Arctic. They will focus on the big question: What type of dragon, based on genotypes, would be the “best fit” to survive in the Arctic? Using a fake website for their research, students will utilize Punnett squares to create a dragon’s genotype, model their data through drawings or 3-dimensional representations, have their dragons sexually reproduce to create offspring and then test their offspring’s ability to survive various events in their environment. 

Time: 1-2 class periods


  • Students will answer the question: “What type of dragon, based on genotypes, would be the “best fit” to survive in the Arctic?”  Using a website for their research, students will fill out Punnett squares to create the genotype for a dragon they think will best survive in an arctic biome.

Type of Activity:

  • Class viewing of de-extinction video
  • Individual students fill out their Dragon Survey by selecting the phenotypes they desire in their dragon
  • Research using the website: Dragon De-extinction (Draconus Arcticus link)
  • Class viewing of Research video

Next Gen Science Standards:

  • Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment. MS-LS4-4 

STEAM Habit of Mind:

  • Students create Punnett square models that convey ideas. (Nope!)

Suggested Do Nows:

Word Wall:

  • Ecosystem
  • De-extinction
  • Bioluminescence
  • Fluorescence

Teach It

Materials Needed:


Watch the How Close Are We to Resurrecting Extinct Species.mp4 video. Ask students:

  • Why can’t we bring back the dinosaurs? What don’t we have? (Dinosaur DNA)
  • What kinds of animals can we already clone? (sheep, pigs, cattle, frogs, dogs)
  • What does de-extinction mean? (bringing back an entire species)
  • Why should we be careful about bringing back an entire species? (These animals have an effect on the other animals in the ecosystem (ex: wolves in Yellowstone).)
  • Which animals would you like to see go through de-extinction? What effects would that have on the rest of the ecosystem?

As you can see, bringing back species through de-extinction takes a lot of forethought and planning. Adding a predator to an ecosystem can disrupt the lives of countless other species. That’s why scientists, artists and others have to do their research before embarking on a new project. Watch this Research video with the students.

Introduce the students to the website called Dragon De-extinction at https://dragon-de-extinction.webnode.com/.  Read the front page article together. Students can click on the links embedded in the article to go to credible websites that provide more information. Have students click on the links to see the types of information they will have at their disposal in order to answer the question: If we could bring back dragons, what type of dragon, based on genotypes, would be the “best fit” to survive in the Arctic? 

Distribute a copy of Lab #2: Create a Dragon (pdf) which includes the introduction and procedure. Students will now work independently to use genotypes to identify phenotypes in your dragons. 

Using the Original Dragon Survey (pdf), students will circle the phenotype that they prefer for each trait listed. Then they will decide whether or not that trait is recessive or dominant when writing down their dragon’s genotype. For example, if a student chooses for their dragon to have wings (W), then they can list the genotype as WW (homozygous dominant) or Ww (heterozygous). This will make a difference when their dragon mates with another dragon because if they are homozygous dominant for wings (WW), then no matter which dragon they mate with, the first generation offspring will always have wings. 

Circulate around the room and keep asking students about the choices they are making for the dragon’s phenotype: “How do you think that trait will increase your dragon’s chance of survival in the Arctic?” Have students reflect on their decisions verbally or in writing.

In the following lesson, students will illustrate their dragon based on their chosen genotypes and phenotypes.

Dig Deeper (Extension)

Have students use the Dragon De-extinction website to read stories about dragons from around the world. Challenge them to write their own dragon story.

Go to Lesson 5A: Contour Line