Lesson plan

DNA extraction from cheek cells

Students extract their own DNA from their cheek cells. Pair with looking at cheek cells under a microscope and a paper DNA coding puzzle.
Science content
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Classification of Living Things, Biodiversity (1, 3)
Biology: Evolution, Natural Selection (7)

Look at cheek cells and extract DNA from cheek cells, whichever order is best.
Do a paper puzzle to show how a string of units can rearrange to make different images, an analogy for how the DNA letters in a different order give rise to all the different living things.
Optional: add ACTG letters to the DNA necklace.


At Tyee Elementary, we started the DNA activity, then while the students waited for me to pull it out of the tube, they moved between stations of 1. making cheek cell slides to look at under transmission scopes, 2. doing the coding puzzle, 3. looking at their DNA in the tube and other random stuff with magnifiers and dissecting scopes.

Grades taught
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6
Gr 7