Summer Camp 2018: DNA Extraction

This is by far my most favorite summer camp activity. DNA Extraction actually consisted of 3 parts (1.5 hour course):

  1. Active Learning (using powerpoint and probing questions)
  2. Making 3D model of DNA
  3. DNA extraction of bananas and oatmeal.

Active Learning

Students participated in learning fun facts about DNA.

  • The shape of DNA: double helix.
  • Nucleotide Base Pairing.
  • Fun facts about DNA.

You’d be surprised at what these kids know.


Making 3D model of DNA

This was certainly a challenge as its hard to get arts and crafts materials to make DNA. These photos were actually for 2 separate summer camps but I decided to combine it to one. The first version was using foam insulating tubing (black), colored popsicle sticks, and clear tubing (fish tank tubing) to connect the popsicle sticks. You could also use masking tape to connect it. However, because it required using box cutters to cut holes to insert the popsicle sticks, it was too dangerous and I decided to not. See the picture below or the above.


I found styrofoam balls online of different shapes. However, they were not colored so I had to add color myself. I used spray paint to coat the balls. 5 colors in total: gray balls for phosphate group, white balls for deoxyribose sugar – no need to paint, 4 random colors of your choice that contrast well.
Problem: spray paint reacts with styrofoam. However, I was too invested so I had to finish it. Again, back to the fumehood to spray paint. However, the time the turnout was great. We used fishing line to connect phosphate and ribose balls together to form the backbone. The nucleotides base pair and connection to the deoxyribose sugar was done with toothpicks. Gotta find another way to color the balls (they don’t come in different colors FYI). Pipecleaner connected the ends of the fishlines.


DNA Extraction

This one follows the same procedure (found here) as what you find online. I bought centrifuge tubes so that the students can collect and take some DNA home.

White DNA floating in beaker. Collecting time.

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