University of Nebraska Medical Center

Celebrating DNA Day!

By Jessie Poskochil and Charlie King

Did you know that James C. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick discovered that DNA is in the shape of a double helix in 1953? This remains one of the major milestones in scientific discovery. Fifty years later, the Human Genome Project was completed, marking the creation of a reference sequence for the entire human genome. These discoveries are some of the accomplishments that we honor and celebrate on National DNA Day. Today, we use information from our DNA to guide medical treatments, provide personalized healthcare, and better understand other living creatures. As we constantly develop our understanding of DNA, DNA Day is a great opportunity to brush up on the latest in genomic research and have fun inspiring future generations of DNA experts.

While the official National DNA Day is April 25th, you don’t have to limit your celebrations to just one day! We have lots of activities and recommendations for all ages to help you learn more about genetics.

Reading for Advanced Learners:
1. Epigenetics

  • What is it: A series of resources explaining epigenetics
  • Includes: Video about the epigenetics of identical twins, Food chart with nutrients that affect our epigenome, Article about genomic imprinting particular in lions and tigers, and more!
  • Epigenetics website

2. 3-D Animation Base from the DNA Learning Center (DNALC)

  • What is it: Animations or interactive experiences revolving around complex genetic topics
  • Includes: Topics include genetic testing options like microarray and sequencing, cloning, DNA damage, mRNA splicing, and much more!
  • Animations website

3. DNA Day Lecture, “The Wildlife Detective: A “DNA driven” journey with koalas, cockatoos, and wildlife forensics,” with Rebecca Johnson, PhD.

  • What is it: Dr. Johnson, Member of the Order of Australia, and Chief Scientist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History will share her ‘DNA-driven’ science journey which includes establishing the first accredited wildlife forensic laboratory in the southern hemisphere and working on conservation genomics of some of Australia’s most iconic wildlife species.
  • Date: April 23, 2021 from 1:00-2:00pm Eastern Time
  • Celebrate DNA Day website

Activities for High School Students

  1. HHMI BioInteractive: Genetics
  • What is it: HHMI BioInteractive is a website that has lesson plans and activities for students at a high school level that focus on different genetic traits
  • Includes: Videos, Student Handouts, Educator Materials, Resource folders, and more
  • Biointeractive website

2. Science Experiment: Extract DNA from Strawberries!

Fun for All Ages

  1. MagicEye 3-D Images
  • What is it: A series of patterned images that show hidden 3-D pictures with magic! (Just kidding – merely the trick of illusions and science of optics!
  • Includes: Three DNA MagicEye 3-D images

2. Coloring with Cell Science Coloring Book Pages

  • What is it: Coloring book pages from CellPress about the world of science and cellular biology
  • Includes: Black and white PDF versions of the coloring pages (including muscle cells, blood cells, cell membranes, DNA, and more!)
  • Cell.com website

3. Explore more on https://www.genome.gov/dna-day/get-activity-ideas

Interested in hosting your own DNA Day event?
The National Human Genome Institute would like to partner with YOU! If you are interested in hosting your own event with any of the above activities or other DNA related ideas, you can register your event online. Both public and private events may be registered and can receive free event promotion if you’d like to raise awareness for your own DNA Day event.
Additional resources for those interested in hosting their own event include the DNA Day starter kit, which provides template posters, nametags, flyers, and much more!

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