Teach about DNA

June 3, 2012 in DNA, Resource for teachers

This poster provides ressources and ideas for teaching about DNA to students, who links to age-appropriate websites describing DNA, extract DNA from various fruits, and play a decoding game to learn how their genetic code is translated into the their various phenotypic qualities.

Pdf version: DNA


October 6, 2011 in DNA

The genetic code came to life for the 5th grade students in Ms Ippolito’s class at École FACE School on Tuesday the 24th of November, 2009, thanks to MoL Team DNA, Tanya Godina (chemistry MSc student U Montréal) and Dr. David Sabatino (PDF chemistry U Montréal).  The so called “Molecule of Life”, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was first introduced to the students by David, who employed a series of animations (for URLs see below), to teach the students the basics of genetics, cells, chromosomes, genes, DNA, SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) and mutations.  From the discussion that emerged, it was clear that the students knew all kinds of interesting information about genetics, particularly mutations.  The students learned that DNA codes for the various proteins that determine whether we are a human, goat, monkey or banana.  Humans share 99.5% of their DNA with each other.  The other 0.5% of our DNA codes for our different traits such as our height, sex, ear shape, eye color and hair texture.

After this introduction, Tanya provided each student with their own DNA extraction kit and each of the 30 students extracted DNA from either a piece of banana, orange, apple or zucchini.  Guided by Tanya, the students crushed up their fruit or vegetable sample, added it to a mixture of bicarbonate of soda containing some salt and soap, and shook up the mixture,   which was filtered.  To the filtrate, some cold rubbing alcohol (isopropanol) was added to create a two phase solution.  The students were captivated as they watched the DNA precipitate at the interface of the two layers.

Finally, to give the students a taste of what it is like to decode the genetic code, Tanya and David shared a game in which the three letter codes from DNA were translated into one-letter amino acid codes which spelled out traits (i.e. blue eyes, pointed nose …), which were used to bring a picture of a new being to life.

Pleased to have the mystery of the genetic code decoded for them in a fun and informative way, the students thanked team DNA for teaching them all about genes.


For a great animated introduction to the world of DNA see:


For an animated introduction to SNPs see:


For an animated introduction on where your genes come from see:


For plenty of videos and information on DNA, replication, mutations… see:


and the videos therein.

For more on how to extract DNA from fruits see:


See our ‘Resource for Teachers’ poster : http://moleculesoflife.ca/category/resource-for-teachers/