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Others Like “Who Done It? DNA Fingerprinting and Forensics”

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Science Fair Project Idea
Imagine that you want to create your own brand of colored candies. You know they would be a success if only you could figure out how to make a certain color, such as purple. How can you do this when government regulators have approved just a few food dyes? First, you will need to find out how your competitors make all of their colors from these few dyes. Do different candy brands use the same or different dyes? This can be figured out with gel electrophoresis, a technique commonly used in… Read more
BioChem_p039
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This project requires a . See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety Use caution when heating the agarose. Never connect more than five 9-volt (V) batteries together for this project.
Science Fair Project Idea
Are you interested in the technical and ethical aspects of genetic screening, forensic science, and DNA fingerprinting? Scientists use different forms of a gene, called alleles, to differentiate between two fingerprints. One such sequence used in human DNA fingerprinting is the Alu repeat (a 300 base pair repetitive sequence of DNA) on chromosome 16. During evolutionary time, up to 1 million copies of the Alu repeat have become randomly inserted throughout the human genome. Within a specific… Read more
BioChem_p022
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites Access to a research laboratory with PCR equipment is required for this project.
Material Availability available for purchase online from Bio-Rad. See for details on how to purchase kits from Bio-Rad.
Science Fair Project Idea
When biologists want to separate different pieces of DNA, RNA, or proteins they use a technique called gel electrophoresis. In this science project you'll build a gel electrophoresis chamber and use it to discover how many components are in different colors of food coloring dye. Read more
BioChem_p028
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
Have your favorite foods been genetically modified? Genetically modified (GM) foods do not require labeling in the USA, and foods with less than 5% content from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be labeled "GMO free." In Europe and Asia, GM foods require labeling only if they contain more than 1% GM content. You can investigate whether your favorite food products, like corn tortilla chips, are made from genetically modified organisms using the from the Bio-Rad Biotechnology Explorer… Read more
BioChem_p025
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites Access to a research laboratory with PCR equipment is required for this project.
Material Availability Requires purchase of Bio-Rad's . Information about how to order from Bio-Rad can be found .
Cost Very High (over $150)
Safety Adult supervision is required in the laboratory facility.
Science Fair Project Idea
First came the and now (drum roll please) the . Confused? Not surprising as the Human Proteome Project has not received the kind of press that the Human Genome Project did. Nonetheless it is a major, and potentially important, scientific undertaking. Just as the genome is the complete set of an organism's DNA, the proteome is all the proteins expressed in an organism. Why study the proteome? It is because proteins are the work horses of biological systems, performing all of the biochemical… Read more
BioChem_p020
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites Access to a research laboratory with gel electrophoresis equipment is required for this project.
Material Availability This science project requires the purchase of Bio-Rad's . See for details on how to purchase supplies from Bio-Rad.
Cost Very High (over $150)
Safety Adult supervision in the laboratory facility is required.
Science Fair Project Idea
Native plants are important for both ecological and medicinal reasons. However, most native plants are not very well studied. One way to know more about these plants is to understand which other species of plants they are most closely related to. In this science project you will sequence part of the chloroplast genome from a native plant and use this information to determine its evolutionary relationship to other species of plants. If the plant you chose has not been sequenced before, you can… Read more
Genom_p012
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites High school biology class; familiarity with using the PCR machine and gel electrophoresis equipment, and/or using the equipment with a mentor.
Material Availability You will need specialized pieces of equipment, including a PCR machine (thermocycler) and a gel electrophoresis apparatus. If your school does not have this equipment you might want to seek out a mentor at a junior college, university, or biotechnology company. If you have the resources you can do the DNA sequencing yourself, otherwise you can send the samples to Dr. Baysdorfer at California State University, East Bay, see Experimental Procedure for more details.
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety This project uses ethidium bromide, which is a carcinogen. Always wear gloves and safety goggles when handling. Dispose of the ethidium bromide according to your school or institute's hazardous waste protocols. If you have concerns, ask your teacher or mentor for advice.
Science Fair Project Idea
Police detectives use various scientific tools to analyze evidence at a crime scene. One of the classic tools is the Kastle-Meyer test for the presence of blood. This test is inexpensive, easy to perform, and provides quick results. The test provides evidence if red spots found at a crime scene are actually blood. But the investigator needs to be careful, since other substances can also give a positive result. In this crime scene chemistry science project, you will learn how to perform the… Read more
BioChem_p037
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability You will need to order the "Presumptive Blood Test" kit online. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Be sure to wear safety goggles and disposable gloves when working with the substances and blood kit.
Science Fair Project Idea
Do you like solving mysteries? In this experiment, you can find out how a DNA fingerprint can help you figure out whodunit. The answer might just be in the "sequence" of events! Read more
BioChem_p016
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
If you're looking for an experiment that will gross out just about everyone, you probably can't do much better than this! This project investigates an important question in the field of forensic entomology. Just make sure to get permission at home before you start. Read more
Zoo_p023
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites This project requires an Investigator who is not squeamish, and who is able to secure parental support for a project involving primary decomposers.
Material Availability Specialty items
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Disinfect containers with 5% bleach solution before disposal.
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you ever had to sort a jumble of objects into piles, based on their type? Maybe laundry, or a big load of dishes, or while organizing the garage or a closet? Scientists have to do something similar when they want to study or isolate just a single type of protein. For example, a botanist might discover an exotic plant that is poisonous when eaten, but that also has great antibiotic properties. To help develop a new antibiotic for human use, he or she would have to separate the different… Read more
BioChem_p035
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites Familiarity with how to use a micropipette is needed.
Material Availability This science fair project requires specialty items, including the Bio-Rad and a sample of green fluorescent protein. See the Materials and Equipment list for details. It also requires a number of common molecular biology items, such as pipettes, micropipettes and tips, and a UV light—likely obtainable from your school laboratory.
Cost Very High (over $150)
Safety Adult supervision is recommended. Follow all safety instructions that come with the Bio-Rad kit(s).
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