Chromosome Shuffle

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Role-playing the parts of chromosomes and centrioles, learners use large chromosome models and nylon cords (spindle fibers and cell membranes) to walk through the processes of mitosis and meiosis. Physical manipulation of the chromosomes and their parts in the process of cell division and replication both clarifies and reinforces some very abstract concepts for learners. The activity demonstrates crossing over and gene linkage. It may be extended to illustrate chromosome anomalies such as deletions and trisomies. Models can be used to show other mutation types as well as x-linkage. A large floor space is needed for this activity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 14 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 4 wooden dowels - at least 1 foot long
  • plastic tubing - 2 sizes - one that fits over each end of the dowel, a second larger tubing that will fit over the smaller tubing (the latter should be painted)
  • nylon rope - two lengths - one to form a nuclear membrane - one to simulate the cell membrane (you may wish to have more than one cell in operation!)
  • 4 Velco strips (3 inches each) - to glue around the center of each dowel
  • 4 Velcro strips (8 inches each) - for chromosome pairing - wrap around center of chromosomes
  • 4 nylon cords ( 6-8 feet long) - for spindle fibers
  • 4 latch hooks and 4 eyes - these will attach chromosomes to spindle fibers and permit them to be moved


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
      • Cell Division
    • Heredity and Genetics
      • Human Genetics
      • DNA Structure and Function

Informal Categories

  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Knowlton Meyer, Tamsen