Human Genome Project Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Alexandra Owens

Alexandra has taught middle school science and has a master's degree in Math and Science Education.

All living things have a secret code inside of them called DNA. The Human Genome Project wanted to crack this code and find out what our DNA says. Let's see if it worked!

What Is a Genome?

Have you ever wondered why you look like your parents? It's all thanks to your genome! A genome is the entire genetic code of an organism. This includes all of the organism's genes and the DNA code that they are made of. In humans, that's over 20,000 genes!

Genes are sections of DNA that code for something specific, like your eye or hair color. You can think of the DNA code as letters, genes as sentences, and the genome as the entire book of you.

Genes code for things like your eye color and hair color.

What Is the Human Genome Project?

For a long time, the human genome was a mystery. We knew that DNA existed, but did not know what it said. Scientists were determined to break this code, and when set off to translate the entire thing the Human Genome Project was born. Scientists around the world started working in 1990 to not only read the genome, but also understand what it all means.

As you can imagine, the human genome is very large. If you printed the code out, it would fill 142 large phone books! This also means that understanding the genome would take some time. The project wasn't completed until 2003, and that was considered two years ahead of schedule. This was a large milestone in science history and opened the doors to many other studies.

DNA is sometimes described as a twisted ladder. It holds all of the information your body needs to function.

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