DNA from the Beginning

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

DNA from the Beginning Study Guide

This lesson is based on an award-winning Web site - DNA from the Beginning [dnaftb.org] - an animated primer on the basics of DNA, genes and heredity. The Web site is organized around key concepts. The lesson that follows concentrates on high school level activities located under the Molecules of Genetics [dnaftb.org] section of the Web site.

The science behind each concept is explained on the site using animations, an image gallery, video interviews, problems, biographies and links. In addition to the Molecules of Genetics covered in this lesson, the Web site includes two other sections of possible interest for further study: Classical Genetics (basics) and Genetic Organization and Control (advanced level).


This study guide will be used to familiarize students with the Molecules of Genetics section of the DNA from the Beginning [www.dnaftb.org] Web site.


Middle school-High school


Two class periods

Learning Objectives:

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Give examples of one scientific discovery building on another.
  2. Summarize the sequence of discoveries that led to our current understanding of DNA.

Day One

Start the lesson by giving out the list of numbered questions (#15-28) provided below. The numbering of the questions corresponds to the numbering of the corresponding concept headings presented on DNA from the Beginning [www.dnaftb.org]. The corresponding concept headings with additional information are located on the Web site under the section entitled Molecules of Genetics [www.dnaftb.org]. Students may click on the Molecules of Genetics button on the Web site home page to reach the corresponding concept headings (#15-28 are listed down the right side of the Web page) that they may click on to get the information they need to answer the questions posed in this lesson. After answering each question, students may click on the PROBLEM button located at the bottom of each concept page and use their problem-solving skills further.

Molecules of Genetics Questions

Day Two

Review the homework assignments by discussing the answers to the questions. You can have the students discuss the problem-solving activities and how they were able to work through them. Group discussion of the meta-cognition may help students think through other problems in a similar manner.

To extend this lesson, click on the BIO button and LINKS button located at the bottom of the Molecules of Genetics [www.dnaftb.org] under the answers to the specific questions (#15-28).

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Last Reviewed: February 28, 2012