DNA Fingerprinting Activities & Games

Instructor: Nora Jarvis

Nora has a Master's degree in teaching, and has taught a variety of elementary grades.

DNA is what makes each person unique, and it results in every person having their own genetic fingerprint. This lesson contains activities and games for your students to help them learn about DNA fingerprinting.

What is DNA Fingerprinting?

Each person has a fingerprint that is unique to them based on their DNA. Keeping track of DNA fingerprints has proven useful in crime investigations and determining ancestry. Because DNA is specific to each person, scientists can use genetic material from blood and hair to determine the DNA of a sample and directly link it to a person.

The following games and activities will help your students learn more about DNA fingerprinting and put their knowledge into action!

Examining Our Own Fingerprints

Materials:

  • Paper
  • Ink Pads
  • Magnifying glasses or microscopes

Instructions:

  • Divide students into groups of 4-5
  • Using the ink pads, each student in the group carefully stamps their fingerprints onto a piece of paper. Tell your students that their fingerprints will need to be clear, so they should be careful to not use too much ink. Encourage your students to use the magnifying glasses to see if they can discern the lines of their fingerprints clearly.
  • After students have made their fingerprints, they pass them around the group, taking turns looking at the prints under their magnifying glasses or microscopes.
  • Ask your students the following questions:
    • What do you notice that's different between the fingerprints? Is there anything that's similar?
    • Why do you think it's important that all these fingerprints are completely unique to you?
    • How could these fingerprints be useful?

History of DNA Fingerprinting

Materials:

  • Computer
  • Articles about DNA fingerprinting; you may consider getting help from your school librarian in collecting these materials

Instructions:

  • Divide students into pairs, giving each group a computer and an article or two about DNA fingerprinting that they can use to get started.
  • Your students should research the history of DNA fingerprinting and how it has evolved through the years. Point them in the direction of Sir Alec Jeffreys and his research.
  • Students should create a history of DNA fingerprinting and share their findings in a number of ways: they can create an illustrated timeline, make a picture book, or write a short play.

Identical Twins

Materials:

  • Set of cards with five fingerprints, with two of them being almost the same
  • Magnifying glass or microscope

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