A Mix-Up in the Nursery

Overview & Concepts

Students will use their understanding of Mendelian genetics and real-time PCR assays to determine the parental identity for each of the mixed up babies. This activity will introduce the concepts of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP’s) and LightCycler (real time PCR/rtPCR) to students.  They will use this information to identify the blood types of 2 individuals when given the LightCycler Assay results and will create what a LightCycler Assay would look like if given the blood types of 2 other individuals.  Students will then be given a scenario where 2 sets of parents had baby boys in the hospital at the same time and the babies were mixed up in the nursery. 

Grade Level: 

Concepts Covered: 

Genetics, Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, LightCycler, PCR, real time PCR.

Prior Knowledge Required: 

 Mendellian Genetics, Blood Type inheritance, Phenotype, Genotype

Activity Notes

Days to Teach: 

1 Day (60 minutes) if just doing LightCycler analysis; 1-2 Days (60-90 minutes) if also teaching background into blood type inheritance

Teaching Tips / Activity Overview: 

This activity can be used after blood typing genetics have been taught and can follow an actual or simulated blood typing activity.

  1. Introduce the activity and do the Light Cycler Practice and Background. It may be helpful to go over an example of a LightCycler assay with the students and explain why some of the graphs show single peaks and others have double peaks based on melting point differences.
  2. Have students complete the ABO Homework packet.
  3. Answer any student questions about blood type & real-time PCR.
  4. Have students complete the A Mix Up In the Nursery sheet.


  • Identification of unknown blood types from LightCycler Assay data
  • Creation of LightCycler Assay data from known blood types
  • Correct Parental identification for 2 mixed-up babies in a nursery


  • Students can also do this will eye color SNP’s to determine brown vs blue genotypes. 
  • Discuss how this information could be used to identify diseases that are caused by SNP’s. 


Background information on blood types, SNP’s and LightCycler interpretation from Bioinformatics Course at F&M,  Summer 2012.

Academic Standards
Categories & Tags
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