DNA Day Activity Ideas

List of Activities

DNA Day Essay Contest from ASHG
American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) DNA Day essay contest is open to students in grades 9-12 worldwide and asks students to examine, question, and reflect on important concepts in genetics. Submissions are now open, via the link at the bottom of this page. The essay submission deadline is Friday, March 8, 2019 and winners will be announced on DNA Day (Thursday, April 25, 2019).
 

Genetics Lesson Plan from Discovery Education
Engage your students in a discussion about traits – both physical and personality- and the factors that influence them. This lesson plan encourages students think like a scientist and to design an experiment and present it to their classmates for feedback. No materials are required!

HHMI BioInteractive: Genetics
Engage your students in a discussion about traits – both physical and personality- and the factors that influence them. This lesson plan encourages students think like a scientist and to design an experiment and present it to their classmates for feedback. No materials are required!

’15 for 15’ Resources
Discover vetted resources highlighting advances in genomics created as part of the 15th anniversary celebration of the completion of the human genome project and the discovery of the double helix. These resources provide an explanation of the advance, videos highlighting various topics, and how anyone can engage in the science. Resources for the interested public, educators, and healthcare providers are also included.

Educational Videos from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
Five educational videos produced by 42 Degrees North for NHGRI, presenting genomics in a visually stunning and easily understandable manner. The videos present topics on lessons learned from the Human Genome Project, commentary from scientists and politicians on what the genome has revealed to us, what genetic testing can and cannot tell us about where we come from, the impact genomic medicine can have on patients, and finally, a wonderful presentation on the “dance” between the genome and the environment.

Strawberry DNA Extraction
This video includes everything you need to know about getting DNA out of strawberries. Learn two easy and fun ways to extract DNA from fresh or frozen strawberries as explained by Dr. Eric Green and Dr. Carla Easter. There is a printable poster of the activity, which is also available in Spanish.

Modules for Classroom Outreach from NC DNA Day
North Carolina DNA Day Ambassador Program has designed modules for outreach in the classroom, including presentation slides, activity protocols, presenter guides, and handouts. These modules include topics like "Genomics and Inheritance", "Personalized Medicine", "Forensics", and "Immunology". Photo Credit: Hannah Crain, UNC Health Care.

BLOSSOMS Lesson Video Library from MIT
Video lessons created by teachers on a number of topics including lessons on DNA in the fields of human evolution, forensics, cancer biology, and the study of animals. Some videos are NGSS aligned.

Ask a Biologist from ASU
Ask a Biologist by Arizona State University was created primarily for use by K-12 students and teachers and lifelong learners. The tools allows users to ask biology-related questions to professionals from the field who volunteer their time to answer.

DNA Origami Design Challenge from Iridescent
This Design Challenge from the Curiosity Machine by Iridescent focuses on DNA nanostructures. The goal of the design challenge is to create a container out of pasta and pipe cleaners (which both represent DNA strands) that can carry a cargo, in this case candy. This hands-on activity is based on DNA nanostructures developed to hold a drug and deliver it once it reaches its destination.

Timeline of the Human Genome from Genome: Unlocking Life's Code
Zip through landmark moments in genetic and genomic research. Beginning with Mendel's work with peas in the mid-1800s, the timeline includes major landmark events in genetics and genomics, and culminates with completion of the Human Genome Project.

Timeline of Ancient DNA from Genome: Unlocking Life's Code
In the early 1980s, scientists began isolating ancient DNA from sources such as museum specimens, archaeological finds, fossil remains, fossilized feces, permafrost ice cores and other unusual sources of DNA. This timeline outlines the history of researchers in many fields, retrieving genetic information from ancient specimens and making ancient DNA research a fertile area of collaboration between research institutions and museums.

Lesson Plan Database from ASHG
This database from the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) includes classroom-tested lesson plans intended to follow the BSCS's 5E instructional model. All lessons were developed by GENA teams and other ASHG programs, such as their High School Workshop. Topics include: "DNA Forensics", "Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)", "Complex Trait Genetics", "Gene expression", and many more.

The Animated Genome from Genome: Unlocking Life's Code
A beautiful, informative animated video about what a genome is and why it matters to each of us. This video clearly and simply explains DNA's triplet code, DNA replication, forensic and genealogical uses of DNA, and much more.

Genomics and Human Identity - Lesson 1 from Genome: Unlocking Life's Code
Genomics and Human Identity, an exciting new teaching resource for grades 7-12, was inspired by the NHGRI/Smithsonian museum exhibit, Genome: Unlocking Life's Code and developed with support from the Promega Corporation. This free classroom resource includes a teacher's manual, student handouts and supplementary PowerPoint slides. The lesson plan introduces four easily observed human traits and their variations and identified differences between the DNA sequences of two individuals.

Genomics and Human Identity - Lesson 2 from Genome: Unlocking Life's Code
Genomics and Human Identity Lesson 2, an exciting new teaching resource for grades 9-12, was inspired by the NHGRI/Smithsonian museum exhibit, Genome: Unlocking Life's Code and developed with support from the Promega Corporation. This free classroom resource includes a teacher's manual, student handouts, and supplementary PowerPoint slides. This lesson takes students further into the human genome than Lesson 1 - and into the dark world of shark attacks and forensic analysis.

Virtual Tour of the Genome: Unlocking Life's Code Exhibit
Take a virtual tour of the exhibition on your personal computer, tablet, or smart phone. Focus in on the various exhibition design elements and explore the high-tech environment of the entire 4,400-square-foot exhibition.

Teaching Evolution through Human Examples from NMNH
The "Teaching Evolution through Human Examples" project is produced by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). These robust tools for teaching evolution were created especially for AP Biology classes but are also valuable in basic biology classes. Its four teaching units focus on: Adaptation to Altitude; Malaria; Evolution of Human Skin Color; and What Does It Mean to Be Human? The materials also include a Cultural and Religious Sensitivity resource.

In & Beyond Africa from Genome: Unlocking Life's Code
"In & Beyond Africa" is an animated set of interactive learning resources freely accessible on the website for Genome: Unlocking Life's Code. Subtitled "follow our genomic journey," this interactive opens with an overview of human migrations throughout Africa and beyond, and contains five mini-games focused on topics of human development.

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
GARD offers a wealth of readily accessible online information about genetic and rare diseases sourced from NIH resources, medical texts, scientific journals, disease advocacy sites, and medical databases. Suitable for teachers, students, and the general public interested in rare diseases and their treatment - this resource provides dependable and up-to-date information.

Media Library from Genome: Unlocking Life's Code
The Genome: Unlocking Life's Codemultimedia database is composed of free, copyright-free, downloadable illustrations, animations, and mobile apps related to genetics, genomics, and topics discussed on the website and in the NHGRI/Smithsonian exhibitionGenome: Unlocking Life's Code.

Finding Our Inner Neanderthal: Dr Svante Paabo
Can the DNA of extinct humans provide a clue to our origins? Hear noted researcher, Dr. Svante Paabo, discuss his groundbreaking investigations about new genetic and geographic connections between Homo sapiens and our ancient ancestors. The video is 90 minutes and close captioned.

Gene Screen from DNA Learning Center
Gene Screen is an informative app developed by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to increase understanding of recessive traits and diseases and how they are inherited. The free educational app includes maps showing the prevalence of these diseases in specific regions and populations throughout the world, background on recessive single-gene diseases, and information about screening programs to detect the presence of recessive genes.

MagicEye 3-D Images of Genetics from Genome: Unlocking Life's Code
Dizzy and delight your friends, family, teachers, or students with these three genetics-themed MagicEye images. These images will portray full 3D effect on a computer screen, or when printed on a regular color printer.

Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms from NHGRI
The "Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms," is a learning tool created by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) designed for use by teachers, students, and the general public to help explain the terms used in modern genetics and genomics. It features the voices of leading scientists in genetics explaining the definition of each term in their own words. The Talking Glossary is available in English and Spanish language versions online, and is available in English as a free downloadable iPhone or iPad app.

Tools For Teaching or Learning About Gregor Mendel from Genome: Unlocking Life's Code
Here are ten resources for bringing Mendel alive in your classroom, or tuning up your personal knowledge. Check out these notable tools including Mendel's historic 1865 paper, interactive animations, lesson plans, TEDEd talks, and more.

Trait Tree Activity from Genome: Unlocking Life's Code
Looking for a great activity to do at a science fair or festival? Or in the classroom with your students? Try this great Trait Tree Activity! Participants track their heritable traits down through the tree and find which combination of traits they have out of a possible 16 options. Track participant responses throughout the day by having them add a small object (bean, marble, microcentrifuge tube) to one of 16 mason jars aligned with possible trait combinations. Encourage people to revisit the booth to see how common or uncommon their combination of traits is among the group at the fair. For another spin on the activity: http://www.genome.gov/Pages/Education/Modules/TreeOfGeneticTraits.pdf

Genes, Environment, and Human Behavior Lesson Plan from BSCS
Genes, Environment, and Human Behavior is BSCS's fourth module related to the Human Genome Project and includes background information on the methods and assumptions of behavioral genetics and student activities. Students are introduced to the complexity of the interactions of genetic, developmental, and environmental phenomena on human behaviors. It helps them realize that neither genes nor environment tells the whole story. Designed for grades 9-12.

Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body Lesson Plan from NLM
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has created this lesson titled "DNA - A Molecular Identity". In Lesson 1, students learn about what DNA is and several different DNA typing techniques. In Lesson 2, students examine three different situations where DNA typing was used to carry out justice. Students also identify and evaluate different uses of DNA typing techniques and its possible benefits and misuses.

GenEd Portal from NLM
GeneEd is a National Library of Medicine (NLM) website featuring vetted, high-level internet resources for high school teachers (and students) interested in genetics and related areas of education and discovery. An NLM team compiles approved resource links - each accompanied by a brief description - of web-based articles, lab experiments, games, teachers' resources, lesson plans, videos, and interactives. Described as a "learning portal for high school biology and science teachers," GeneEd covers the major elements of the high school (Grades 9-12) biology curriculum and greatly lessens anxiety about unreliable online resources. Resource links on the GeneEd site are selected by a team of educators, genetics experts, and librarians at the NLM.

Tour of Basic Genetics from GSLC
The Tour of Basic Genetics by the Genetic Science Learning Center (GSLC) at the University of Utah walks through simple explanations of a number of key genetics terms, including "What is a gene?", "What is DNA?" and "What is Heredity?" These clear, plain language explanations are paired with helpful visuals allowing participants to fully grasp this important terminology.

Peer-Reviewed Education Portal from GSA
The Genetics Society of America (GSA) Peer-Reviewed Education Portal (PREP) is designed to promote high-quality classroom resources for undergraduate courses. These resources showcase evidence-based teaching methods and those shown to be effective in enhancing student learning and retention. Each resource fits into the learning framework of Core Concepts and Core Competencies in genetics, promoting the principles of teaching set forth by the Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education.

Epigenetics Resources from GSLC
This series of resources about epigenetics by the Genetic Science Learning Center (GSLC) at the University of Utah includes an introductory video called "The Epigenome at a Glance," a number of interactive tools demonstrating key epigenetics concepts, and other great resources exploring the relationship between epigenetics and nutrition, the brain, inheritance and more.

Informational Videos from Stated Clearly
These engaging animated videos by Stated Clearly, accurately explain the basics of genetics and evolution. Together they act as an introductory course to these fields of study, with videos including "What Exactly Is a Gene?", "What is DNA and How Does It Work?" and "How Does New Genetic Information Evolve?"

Beyond The DNA' Epigenetics Infographic from Genetic Alliance
This resource from Genetic Alliance - "Beyond The DNA - Your Informative Guide to Epigenetics & Health" - illustrates how epigenetics works and what it means for you in a fun and interactive way.

Characteristics of Inheritance from GSLC
This series of resources by the Genetic Science Learning Center (GSLC) at the University of Utah about characteristics of inheritance covers difficult questions like "What is Heredity?" and "What is a Trait?" with simple language. These resources also include information about specific inheritance of gene examples, and ten straightforward, printable activities to learn about traits with your family or class.

Coloring with Cell Science Coloring Book Pages
Want to celebrate DNA Day with a younger crowd? Or just the young at heart? Enjoy Cell Press' Coloring with Cell: coloring book pages exploring the world of cellular biology. These color-in comics are graphical representations of a bioscientific process, left black and white for your coloring pleasure! Pages include a double helix, DNA replication and an RNA polymerase.

Map-Ed Genetics from pgEd
Map-Ed is an interactive learning website from the Personal Genetics Education Project (pgEd) featuring short quizzes focused on a variety of genetics-related topics. After completing each quiz, students can "pin" their location on a world map and - over time - watch participants (and knowledge) spread across the world! Map-Ed is designed to raise public awareness and knowledge about personal genetics using means that everyone can access.

Molecules of Interitance from GSLC
This collection of resources by the Genetic Science Learning Center (GSLC) at the University of Utah includes information about molecules involved in inheritance, including DNA and Genes, RNA, Proteins and The Central Dogma, which explains the relationship between these molecules. These resources for each molecue include interactive exploration tools, explanations of core topics, and applications and examples.

Lesson Plans from pgEd
This lesson plan database from the Personal Genetics Education Project (pgEd) includes interactive lessons for high school and college educators to engage their students in discussions of ethics and personal genetics. The lessons are relevant to multiple subjects, including biology, health, social studies, law, physical education and psychology. All contain background reading for teachers and students, a selection of classroom activities, discussion points, in some cases a slide presentation or video clip, and an evaluation. Topics include "Introduction to personal genetics", "Direct-to-consumer genetic testing", "History, eugenics and genetics" and many more.

3D Animation Database from DNALC
The DNA Learning Center (DNALC) at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has a large database of 3D animations that can be viewed within your Web browser or downloaded to play from your computer. These animations can be helpful for visualizing complex biological concepts. Videos include: "Transcription & Translation: RNA Splicing", "DNA Molecule: How DNA is Packaged", "DNA Unzips" and many more.

Chromosomes & Inheritance from GSLC
This group of resources from the Genetic Science Learning Center (GSLC) at the University of Utah cover the topic of chromosomes and inheritance. Resources discuss "What is a Chromosome", and "How Do Scientists Read Chromosomes" with a number of resources on karyotypes. Also, articipants can make their own karyotype in an interactive exploration activity.

Biology Animation Library from DNALC
This Biology Animation Library from the DNA Learning Center (DNALC) at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has animations that can be viewed within your Web browser or downloaded to play from your computer. Videos include: "RNA Splicing", "DNA Barcoding", "Cloning 101" and many more.

'Your Genome and You' Infographic from NHGRI's PCOEG
This infographic - Your Genome and You - from the National Human Genome Research Institute's (NHGRI) Partnership for Community Outreach and Engagement in Genomics (PCOEG) offers the general public an introduction into the basics of genetics and genomics.Your Genome and You gives information on how the science of genetics and genomics impacts what a person looks like (physical traits) and their health (risk for disease). The images and text highlight the progress being made in this rapidly growing field and its impact on the lives of us all.

Pigeon Breeding: Genetics At Work from GSLC
This series of resources about inheritance by the Genetic Science Learning Center (GSLC) at the University of Utah uses the model of a pigeon to convey complex inheritance concepts, such as independent assortment, probability, epistatis, linkage and more. These resources include interactives, songs, games and a gallery of interited characteristics in pigeons.

How to Sequence a Genome Video Series from NHGRI
This page from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) contains animated and narrated segments presenting all the essential steps in sequencing a genome. Each section contains links to the animations and transcripts. The ~15 minute video series includes "Mapping", "Building Libraries", "Assembling the results" and more.

Timeline: Organisms that have had their genomes sequenced
In this timeline from the Genome Research Limited and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, you can follow the timeline of organisms that have been sequenced. Starting with the Bacteriophage MS2 in 1976 to the Zebrafish in 2013, we now have a large catalogue of genomes that have been sequenced that we can study and compare. Included for each organism is: "What is it?", "Why was it sequenced?", "Who sequenced it?", "How many bases?" and "How many chromosomes?"

Genetic Variation from GSLC
These resources from the Genetic Science Learning Center (GSLC) at the University of Utah discuss "How Variation Comes About" and "What is Mutation?" Through a number of interactive exploration rools and informational resources, students can learn about sources of genetic variation and models for learning more about it.

Yummy Gummy DNA from the Wellcome Genome Campus
This tasty activity from the Wellcome Genome Campus' "yourgenome" website helps you to explore the shape and structure of DNA. Four colours of gummy sweets represent the four bases that make up DNA. Using the toothpicks you can pair the bases correctly and make up the ladder-like shape of the DNA helix. And the best part of the activity - it's edible!

Variation + Selection & Time from GSLC
This collection of resources by the Genetic Science Learning Center (GSLC) at the University of Utah covers the topics of genetic variation and selection, and their relationship to time. This includes a number of evolution interactive exploration tools, where you can learn about drivers of evoution, track traits through time or explore rapid evolutionary change through "Rock pocket mice." Resources also discuss Artificial vs. Natural Selection, models of evolution through corn, the eye and the stickleback fish.

Sequence Bracelets from the Wellcome Genome Campus
In this activity from the Wellcome Genome Campus' "yourgenome" website, you can make a bracelet of DNA sequence from organisms including a human, chimpanzee, butterfly, carnivorous plant or flesh-eating bacteria. This activity is an enjoyable way of exploring the basics of DNA sequences and complementary base pairing. You are given a DNA sequence for your chosen organism. You use this to make one strand of your bracelet and then create the other strand using the basic rules of base pairing.

Genetic Science and Society from GSLC
This section of resources from the Genetic Science Learning Center (GSLC) at the University of Utah includes current topics of interest in genetics and how they relate to society. These topics include: "Transgenetic Mice", "Genetically Modified Foods", "Pharming for Farmaceuticals", forensics, conservational biology and more.

Origami DNA from the Welcome Genome Campus
This hands-on activity from Wellcome Genome Campus' "yourgenome" website allows you to create your own paper model of a DNA double helix. This activity brings to life the double helix structure of DNA by enabling you to make your own paper model. You can download instruction sheets for how to make the model and there is also a short video that takes you through the process step-by-step.