What Are Chromosomes? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Carla Palomino
Have you ever wondered why you have your dad's nose or why you look like your brother? In this lesson, you'll learn the meaning of genetics and DNA. You will find that your features, even your personality, is carried through chromosomes.

DNA and Chromosomes

The study of how living things pass on characteristics and features from their parents, for instance hair color, shape of the mouth, height or eye color, is called genetics. To understand what genetics is, it is absolutely important to comprehend concepts like chromosomes and DNA. Chromosomes are tiny thread-like structures composed of DNA and other genetic material. DNA is the genetic instructions. Sound confusing? Let's check out these terms with an example:

Imagine you are in a restaurant and you order a relatively large cake with multiple flavors and layers, extreme decorations, and tons of frosting. The waiter takes your order, and goes straight to the kitchen to tell them your request. Back in the kitchen, a team of 46 bakers are anxiously waiting to start making this unique cake.

DNA and Chromosomes
Chromosomes 1

DNA

The head baker needs to find the specific recipe to make your cake. DNA would be the recipe; the information of all the ingredients they need to use and the set of instructions to make your cake. Without it, none of the bakers would know what kind of cake they need to produce or how to make it.

Every organism has a unique set of instructions (DNA) that determines its characteristics, like eye color, hair color or height. Let's say each of us has a hidden recipe that determines our traits.

Take a look at yourself in a mirror. You are a person with unique characteristics (unless you are an identical twin).

Chromosomes

Now, let's say that because of the individual characteristics of this unique cake, each baker needs to memorize, store, and carry a compact part of that specific recipe and its instructions. One of them will store information regarding the dough, another will store information regarding the frosting, someone will be in charge of decorations, etc...

Those compact stores of specific instructions are the chromosomes. A chromosome is simply DNA strands folded and compacted together. Just like the bakers, one chromosome will determine your height, a different one your hair color, another the shape of your mouth.

Recipe vs DNA
Chromosomes 2

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