Genetics in the Wizarding World

It’s here!!! The most exciting thing next to getting your very own letter from Hogwarts! Enrollment for Harry Potter Genetics is finally open for the September class!! I will be offering two sessions of this class- Level 1 and Level 2. If you are interested and there is still an ENROLL button showing rather than a WAITLIST button, I would recommend enrolling immediately. These sessions are going to fill fast and another won’t be added after these are full.

Recommended Ages: 10-17
Start Date: Tuesday, January 9. Class runs for 12 weeks. Students have 2 weeks after the last class to complete all work. No live classes- do the lesson plans on YOUR schedule.
Grading Options: All students receive feedback on submitted work. Formal grading is available.
Fee: $240
Required Textbook: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Instructor: Mary Middlebrook
SPACE AVAILABLE: Class is over 65% full.
Our classes always fill. Don’t miss out- enroll now!

This 12 week course will help students unlock the mysteries of genetics through case studies found in the Harry Potter series! Genetically, what is the difference between a pure blood, a half blood, and a Muggle (how is Hermione a witch if her parents aren’t?)? How do we determine the offspring of different variations of parents (will Ron and Hermione’s children all be wizards?)? What about mutations (why do squibs- like Filch- have wizards for parents but are unable to do magic?)? How do mixed species work in the wizarding world (Hagrid is one half giant, Flitwick is ¼ goblin) and in the real world (ligers and zorses and mules, oh my!)? Do genetics play a role in personality and talents (can the Sorting Hat detect your genetics so you are placed in the right house?)? We’ll also unravel the double helix of DNA to see exactly how it works and how genes are created. Students will have a thorough understanding of the four nucleotide bases, how DNA is replicated, and how mutations can occur during this process.


We’ll then spend a few weeks on evolutionary adaptations- how genetics plays a role in ensuring survival of the fittest and making sure the strongest genes are passed down. For this, we’ll study the various beasts of the wizarding world. What adaptations allow them to live in their environments? If the environment were to change, what would that species need to do to survive? Students will embark on a multi-week project to create genetic profiles of the various beasts in the book, then create a new magical beast through selective breeding of known species.


This class runs for 12 weeks. Students have 2 weeks after that date to complete all work. In general, expect 1-1.5 hours to work through the lesson plan each week, and an additional 2-5 hours working on assignments (it really depends what assignment your child chooses to do and how they manage their time).

I will post all lesson plans and homework assignments on Tuesdays by 5pm PST. Discussion occurs throughout the week, as students interact with the me and other students via our online message board. There is no “live” component to this class, which allows students to work at their own pace. This is a great option for busy students who need to work on their own schedule, and students who live all over the world and can’t easily coordinate time zones.


This class is ideal for students ages 10-17. Younger academically gifted students will be accepted, but must have excellent reading, comprehension, and listening skills. The total fee for the 12 classes is $240.

Lesson plans are a combination of power point, graphics, video, and audio. Each slide is fully narrated to help young readers or students who prefer to hear material read to them. Material is the same for both levels, it’s the depth of the assignments that are the main difference. In general, younger students (10-12) should be placed in Level 1. Students ages 13 and up, or younger students who are academically gifted, should be placed in Level 2. See assignment examples for each group below:

1. Go to the Character Archive website. Pick 5 of your favorite Harry Potter characters by clicking the letter of their first name that is toward the top of the page, and then scrolling until you find them in the list. Find characters that have eye color and hair color listed as traits for that character in the box on the right side of the page (you may have to go through several until you find ones that list this!). You’ll have to decide if their phenotype is dominant or recessive (no right or wrong answer here), but you should have 3 of one kind and 2 of the other- so either 3 dominant and 2 recessive, or 3 recessive and 2 dominant. Create a project that will show the character, trait, phenotype, and possible genotypes. You can create a table, write it in paragraph form, make a poster, a video, etc…
2. Create a DNA strand. You can draw it or make a model. You need to create a key that shows what the following things are on your model: Deoxyribose sugar, Phosphate group, Adenine, Thymine, Guanine, Cytosine. Make sure your bases are paired up properly! Have a minimum of 6 base pairs (that’s a total of 12 individual bases) on your strand. A ZILLION ideas can be found by looking through Google Images!!

Will generally do the Level 1 work, but have something extra to do as well.
1. Take the five characters you used in your homework from last week- where you determined the hair color and eye color for each character. Choose one of those traits to work with. Create a reverse Punnett Square! Put your character’s genotype inside the Punnett Square, and figure out a possible genotype for the mother and for the father that would create your character’s gentotype. You should have a total of 5 Punnett squares- 1 for each character. Are the parents homozygous or heterozygous? Dominant or recessive? Is the character homozygous or heterozygous? Dominant or recessive?
2. Research the following information that was not discussed in class. Present to me in any format you prefer.
a) What is a prokaryote cell? What is a eukaryote cell? Which type of cell do humans have?
b) What is the difference in the location of the DNA in a prokaryotic cell vs. a eukaryotic cell?
c) What are purines? What are pyrimadines?
d) What type of bonds holds the two base pairs together? (Hint: It’s an element)


When you enroll, you have the option of having your student graded or not. ALL students will have access to our online learning system where they can view their lesson plan and assignments, take optional quizzes, access our discussion board, submit assignments, and view instructor feedback on those assignments. Graded students will be required to take the weekly quiz and will receive a number grade for their work in addition to feedback. Please note: All quizzes and some homework assignments that require an online “quiz” like entry will receive a grade.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Used books can be purchased for about $15 with shipping through Amazon.

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