DNA & Traits: From Codes to Creatures
DNA & Traits: From Codes to Creatures encourages young scientists to think about DNA: where it comes from and what it does. The kit provides all the tools for actual DNA extraction, with parents supplying only simple home ingredients such as rubbing alcohol, dish soap, salt, and the test objects (such as juicy fruits — and kids can provide their own cheek cells to test!).
In addition to information for DNA extraction, the 32-page lab book teaches students about genetically inherited traits. The set includes a survey of common traits; they can find variations within their own family and see how friends and classmates compare to gauge which traits are more or less common. Finally, kids can build “monsters” using the paper bodies and stickers provided, to learn how DNA from parents can combine in different ways to produce unique offspring.
The booklet includes trivia about DNA science history and encourages kids to pursue their own curiosity to learn even more. The set is specifically geared towards girls, but apart from an initial discussion on the importance of keeping girls enthused about STEM fields, and a general focus on the women in DNA science, everything in the kit would be appealing to young boy scientists as well. While the monster activity will appeal more to the younger users, it still provides important learning to older kids, and the other activities are suitable for all levels. The DNA extraction in particular has a real WOW! factor for scientists of any age or gender.
The lab book presents the material in an engaging manner appropriate to the learning level of elementary school students. It asks further questions it doesn’t try to answer, in the hopes that children will go out and seek more information from the library and online (we sure did!).
Emily Crawford ©2020 Parents’ Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master’s in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.