What Is the Purpose of Teaching Bikini Bottom Genetics?


Quick Answer

Bikini Bottom Genetics is a classroom activity developed by the BioEYES education organization to introduce concepts of classical genetics and inheritance to children using the characters of the Nickolodeon show "SpongeBob Squarepants." Using these characters as examples, children learn about genetics concepts such as dominant and recessive states of alleles and the use of monohybrid Punnett squares to determine the odds of observing specific phenotypes in the offspring of two parents with specific genotypes.

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Full Answer

Bikini Bottom Genetics offers a child-friendly introduction to the concepts of Mendelian genetics by substituting SpongeBob Squarepants and related characters inhabiting the show's setting of Bikini Bottom for the pea plants often used in more advanced introductions to the subject. For example, while a high school biology class uses the mating of dominant rough peas with smooth peas to demonstrate the expectations of offspring ratios, Bikini Bottom Genetics uses the mating of SpongeBob Squarepants and SpongeSusie Roundpants and the ratio of their square to round offspring to demonstrate the same concept. The use of these characters is intended to be more interesting to children than the classical examples of plant genetics. One other reason for the choice of the SpongeBob characters for these examples is that the former nuclear test site Bikini Atoll is said to be located at the surface above the fictional Bikini Bottom of the show, leading many fans to speculate that SpongeBob and his friends are themselves genetically mutated creatures resulting from the radiation emitted from the nuclear tests.

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