Teacher Site Map
7th Grade Core
USOE Science Home Page

There are two types of reproduction: sexual and asexual. To really understand what those words mean, let’s break them apart.

Asexual reproduction

Asexual is easier to break apart. The prefix “a” comes from the Greek language and means "without." "Sex" means "to cross." Thus the term asexual means "without to cross," which really doesn't make sense, but it is also defined as without crossing. Asexual organisms make exact copies of themselves, almost like a photocopy.  This photocopy is almost identical, but mistakes can happen that allow different traits to occur in the copy. One of the big differences is that the copy is usually a little smaller, especially in larger organisms who reproduce this way. Some examples of animals who reproduce asexually are:

Lindens, like many trees, can reproduce asexually through a process called propagation. Propagation means that humans cut off a part of the tree and plant it so that it grows roots and begins a new tree. Certain plants yjsy have no seeds, like navel oranges, can only reproduce this way.

We already know that asexual means without crossing, or only one parent. Sexual means “to cross.” Sexual reproduction means that two parents combine parts of their genetic material. With sexual reproduction there is usually a male and a female. The male contributes a copy of half of his genetic material, and the female contributes a copy of half of her genetic material. The “baby” that is born is the offspring. In a very basic way, offspring get half their traits from each parent. Because of the way the male and female copy their own genetic material and the way they are combined, each offspring is different. It is a little like rolling dice for each offspring. Some animals that reproduce sexually are:




Many plants and animals are adapted to reproduce both ways, and there are advantages to each method. Jellyfish are an example of an animal that can reproduce both ways. They reproduce sexually, but they also reproduce asexually. The asexual way allows them to make many copies of themselves that have an easier time finding a mate than one copy would. The sexually reproducing copies can then find a mate and produce offspring with different traits. These different traits may give the offspring an advantage the parents didn’t have. Other organisms which may reproduce using both asexual and sexual reproduction include:




Use a diagram like the circles below to compare and contrast sexual and asexual reproduction. List characteristics about sexual reproduction in the right circle and characteristics of asexual reproduction in the left circle. Where the two circles overlap, put characteristics that the two types of reproduction have in common.

  1. What advantages are there to sexual reproduction?
  2. What advantages are there to asexual reproduction?
  3. What would you say is the most important difference between the the two types of reproduction?

Review science safety rules here.

Get the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader , and Get Quicktime Player. (The Quicktime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 7th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

Science Home Page | Curriculum Home Page | 7th Science Core Home Page | USOE Home Page

Copyright Utah State Office of Education.