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DNA Show and Tell: Biotechnology You Can Wear Around Your Neck

A biotechnology kit from Bio-Rad Laboratories introduces young scientists to the world of biochemistry. In this fun science activity, kids can extract their own DNA, examine it without a microscope, and create a pendant containing their DNA—the ultimate item for cool-but-geeky show and tell!
By Kim Mullin

DNA activity / Genes in a Bottle biotechnology exploration for students
With a fun science kit from Bio-Rad Laboratories, you and your students can extract DNA—and then preserve it in a cool necklace. This is hands-on science that is sure to be a hit at the next show and tell!
Calling All DNA Detectives!

You may know that DNA is found in almost every cell of your body, but did you know that it is possible to see your DNA without a microscope? You don't need to be in a fancy scientific lab to become a DNA detective! Exploring the fascinating world of DNA is simple and quick with Science Buddies' "Discovering DNA: Do Your Cheek Cells & a Strawberry Both Have DNA?" Project Idea and the Genes in a BottleTM kit from Bio-Rad Laboratories!

What is DNA?

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the blueprint for everything that happens inside the cell of an organism, and each cell in an organism has a copy of the same set of instructions. The entire set of instructions that make you you is called your genome.

Scientists study DNA for many reasons. They can figure out how the instructions stored in DNA help your body to function properly. They can use DNA to decide what new medicines are needed to treat a disease. They can figure out the suspect of a crime. They can even use ancient DNA to reconstruct evolutionary histories!

See Your Own DNA!

How do scientists get DNA from a cell so that they can study it? They use a process called a DNA extraction. Although this may sound like something best left to professionals, DNA extraction is simple enough that you can try it out at home! Following the simple steps outlined in the Discovering DNA: Do Your Cheek Cells & a Strawberry Both Have DNA? Project Idea, you can extract DNA from your own cheek and take a look.

The Genes in a Bottle kit contains everything you need for this science activity. The kit also comes with a pendant and instructions for coloring your precipitated DNA. After you are finished with the extraction, you can make a unique helix keepsake filled with strands of your own DNA to show off to your friends and family—proof positive that even kids can be biochemists!

Where Else Can You Find DNA?

Once you see your own DNA, you may wonder about DNA and other living things. If your cells have DNA that provides the instructions for creating your eye and hair color, then what about the eye and fur color of other animals? Or the shapes and colors of leaves and plants? With a bit of human cheek DNA extraction experience hanging around your neck, you can move on to extracting DNA from a strawberry to see if plants also have DNA. Will the DNA appear the same?

Once you've analyzed the DNA from a strawberry, why stop? Check for DNA in other fruits, vegetables, and grains. An onion can be an eye-opening next step! Can you extract more DNA from some items than from others? With your new DNA detective skills, you can find out!

Science Buddies Project Ideas in Biotechnology Techniques are sponsored by support from Bio-Rad Laboratories and its Biotechnology Explorer program.

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