5 Fun Activities For Learning about DNA at home.

What Is DNA? Where Is It Held? DNA is held in our cells, which is used to make the proteins that form the parts of our bodies. Without DNA, we wouldn’t be able to pass on our own characteristics and features to our children and grandchildren. DNA is nothing more than a molecule, but there is so much contained within that molecule that makes us unique. It’s also a common target for drug therapies since many diseases are embedded within our DNA. Many also believe that the secret to understanding why we age is embedded within our DNA, because we have the ability to learn a great deal about ourselves from it.

1. Extracting Your DNA From Cheek Cells

Extracting your own DNA is one of the most exciting experiments that you can do. The reason why it’s so exciting is because it allows you to visualize what your DNA actually looks like instead of looking at it from a textbook picture. You’ll find that your DNA actually looks like a white blob instead of the neatly-coiled images that you commonly see. This process only involves swishing salt water back and forth in your mouth, mixing the solution with soap, and precipitating the result with alcohol. Click here to learn how to extract your own DNA at home. 

2. Cooking an Egg

boil an egg to explore proteinsEgg is made from proteins, the products that are made from DNA. When you cook an egg on a stove, what happens is that the proteins inside the egg are denatured. The heat changes the shape of the proteins, making them very different from the normally runny egg white. Cooking an egg changes the shape of these proteins stretch out. Hydrogen bonds keep egg proteins curled up, and the process of cooking has the effect of stretching these proteins out.

3. Looking Up DNA Sequences

Another thing that many people don’t realize they are able to do is that they can look up DNA sequences in NCBI. NCBI allows you to click on individual chromosomes to browse for a specific gene that you might be interested in. You can then click on specific regions of the chromosome to find areas which might be of interest to you. Databases such as GenBank are among the best resources for you, especially if you are looking at ways of being able to learn more about genomics.

4. Build a Structural Model of DNA

Explore DNA with sweetsWatson and Crick were the two scientists that discovered the structure of DNA. When they discovered the structure of the molecule, they created a model of it to demonstrate to the world. Another option for you is to build a structural model of the DNA with sweets and cocktail sticks which will allow you to familiarize yourself with the structure of the molecule. Structural DNA models allow you to explore the complexities of the human genome and learn more about different ways that your DNA changes shape.

5. Debating Ethics of Genetically-Modified Organisms

Another way to enlighten yourself on genetics is by exploring the ethical issues behind genetic modification and genetic screening. To understand the ethical components of genetic modification, it’s crucial for you to gain a solid understanding of the way that DNA works. With a solid understanding, you can much more easily take your side and defend it against the other party. Do a search for literature on Recombinant DNA, as you will be able to find many great items for your review on this broad and diverse topic. Thank you to Abby Drexler for this guest post. Abby Drexler is a contributing writer and media specialist for Genetics Digest. She regularly produces content for a variety of science and education blogs about the wonders of genetics and DNA.

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