Monday, May 9, 2016

DNA for Early Elementary


One of the twins' (6.5-years-old) homeschool activities involves finding interesting encyclopedia articles and summarizing them.  Recently, L was especially fascinated by a photograph of a mouse that has a fluorescent green glow because it received jellyfish genes.  As a follow-up to all her questions, I decided to do a little DNA mini-unit for the kids...




We started our DNA unit by watching an episode of "Bill Nye the Science Guy" on the topic of Genetics and DNA on Netflix.  Part of the show discussed genetic traits that are passed from parents to their children, so we took some time to examine eye-color and hair-color, see who in the family has attached / detached earlobes, who can roll his/her tongue, etc..  The girls especially enjoyed listing which traits they received from Mom and which ones are from Dad.  We also read the book "DNA is Here to Stay" by Dr. Fran Balkwill.


The twins used Zoobs to construct a double-helix shape.  They were very proud of their creation.


Our science lab was to extract DNA from a banana.  We followed instructions from The Scientific American Website here.  I let the kids lead the entire experiment, from reading the instructions to getting the materials to following each step.  They did a great job!


The girls were expecting to see a double-helix, so I had to explain that the long stringy strand they were seeing was actually made up of DNA material from millions of cells, which is why it is visible to the naked eye.

A few days after our little study of DNA, my husband was watching a documentary on NOVA about current research to cure / stop the progression of Alzheimers.  When the show discussed the genetics behind the disease, the girls immediately perked up and yelled out "That's DNA!  We know all about it!"

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