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DNA Discovery day

This programme is designed to introduce students to the concept of DNA, and how scientists learn about human and agricultural health through the study of DNA in humans and animal models.

Target Group

Year 9-10 Science Classes

Class size: Up to 32 students

Programme aims

  1. Develop an understanding of what DNA is, where it is found in the cell, and the role it plays in inheritance.
  2. Develop an understanding of what a gene is and the information it contains.
  3. Develop an understanding of why scientists are interested in studying genes and DNA, and what they can find out by knowing about which genes are turned on or off in different situations.
  4. Gain hands-on experience in the use of micro-pipettes and in extracting DNA from cells.
  5. Learn how scientists can use Gel Electrophoresis to study DNA and gain hands-on experience of this technique.
  6. Develop an understanding of what a scientific model is and why scientists use models in their research.
  7. Develop an understanding of what scientists do and how to become a scientist.

Programme Schedule

Classes arrive between 9:15am and 9:30am and leave at 2:30pm.

  • What happens at a scientific research institute? An interactive teaching and learning session in which students explore the work of scientists in a research institute.
  • So what is DNA? Interactive teaching and learning session in which students explore what DNA is and through a story of scientific research, learn about what a scientific model is and why it is so useful to know about DNA and genes.
  • Practical 1: What does my DNA look like?

 Short Break (10 minutes)

  • Research Story - Effects of Fructose in a mothers' diet on her offspring.
  • Practical 2:  How would a scientist analyse a sample of DNA?  Students learn how to use micro-pipettes to carry out the techniques of Gel Electrophoresis. 

Lunch Break (40 minutes)

  • Meet a Scientist:  Small group discussions with scientists about their work.
  • Gel Analysis:  Students analyse the results of their gels.
  • Drawing the line.  Students explore the value of science literacy.

Curriculum Links

The New Zealand Curriculum 2007 | Level 4-5 Science

Nature of Science: Level 4-5

Understanding About Science

Appreciate that science is a way of explaining the world and that science knowledge changes over time.

Identify ways in which scientists work together and provide evidence to support their ideas.

Understand that scientists’ investigations are informed by current scientific theories and aim to collect evidence that will be interpreted through processes of logical argument.

Investigating in Science

Build on prior experiences, working together to share and examine their own and others’ knowledge.

Ask questions, find evidence, explore simple models, and carry out appropriate investigations to develop simple explanations.

Develop and carry out more complex investigations, including using models.

Communicating in Science

Use a wider range of science vocabulary, symbols and conventions.

Participating and Contributing

Use their growing science knowledge when considering issues of concern to them.

Explore various aspects of an issue and make decisions about possible actions.

Develop an understanding of socio-scientific issues by gathering relevant scientific information in order to draw evidence-based conclusions and to take action where appropriate.

Living World:

Level 5 | Evolution

Describe the basic processes by which genetic information is passed from one generation to the next.