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National DNA Day celebrates the discovery of the DNA double helix in 1953 and the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003. It’s a special day when students, teachers, and the public commemorate these great feats and do fun activities to learn more about genetics and genomics. This year DNA Day was celebrated on Wednesday, April 25, 2018.


Materials for DNA Day


Discovery of DNA

Description: An interactive timeline of scientific discoveries

DNA Interactive

Description: Animations, interactive tutorials, and practice problems that teach a range of genetic concepts

DNA is a Structure that Encodes Biological Information

Description: This illustrated article and animation explains DNA, its components, and how it is packaged in a cell.

DNA Structure

Description: An animation and quiz on the structure of DNA

How to Sequence a Genome

Description: Animations on genome sequencing

The Animated Genome

Description: An engaging 5 minute film about DNA and the human genome that is sure to please.

Tour the Basics

Description: Interactive tutorials on DNA, genes, chromosomes, protein, heredity, and traits

Zoom in on Your Genome

Description: This animation shows where and how the human genome is stored within our cells.


Discovering the Double Helix

Description: A history and video interviews with scientist about the discovery of the double helix

Human Genome Project

Description: An overview on the Human Genome Project

Profiles in Science: The Francis Crick Papers

Description: Information on the discovery of the double helix

Revealing DNA as the Molecule of Life

Description: How was DNA discovered to be the carrier of genetic information? Read on to find out...

The Discovery of DNA

Description: How was DNA first discovered and who discovered it? Read on to find out...

The New Genetics - Genes Are Us

Description: Information from a science education booklet that covers the human genome, behavioral genetics, pharmacogenetics, drug resistance, biofilms, and computer modeling

Timeline: Organisms That Have Had Their Genomes Sequenced

Description: View this timeline to learn more about our large catalog of sequenced genomes which are studied and compared in labs today.

Unraveling the Double Helix

Description: The discovery of the structure of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953 is one of the most famous scientific discoveries of all time.

What is a Genome?

Description: A genome is an organism’s complete set of genetic instructions. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build that organism and allow it to grow and develop.

What is DNA?

Description: DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid is a long molecule that contains our unique genetic code. Like a recipe book it holds the instructions for making all the proteins in our bodies.


DNA Sequencing Game, Interactive 2D Animation

Description: Use DNA fragments to reconstruct a piece of DNA in this simple and quick game.

The Gene Scene

Description: Games and activities on DNA, genes, cloning, genetic careers, and more


Interactive Tutorials

Build a DNA Molecule

Description: Practice building a DNA molecule using this interactive tutorial on complementary base paring of DNA nucleotides.

DNA Extraction Virtual Lab

Description: An interactive tutorial on extracting DNA from human cells

The DNA Molecule is Shaped Like a Twisted Ladder

Description: An interactive Web site exploring basic concepts of the Double Helix through historical discovery

Tour the Basics

Description: Interactive tutorials on DNA, genes, chromosomes, protein, heredity, and traits

Labs & Experiments

Barcoding Experiment

Description: Videos and detailed instructions for conducting a DNA barcoding laboratory experiment

DNA Extraction

Description: A virtual DNA extraction laboratory experiment

DNA the Easy Way and Gram Stain Without the Mess

Description: This demonstration can be used to help students visualize DNA by lysing (breaking open) bacterial cells on a slide and stringing up the DNA with a toothpick in less than one minute.

Extracting DNA From Living Things

Description: A laboratory experiment using simple equipment and chemicals to extract DNA from plants and other materials

Gel Electrophoresis

Description: Build your own gel electrophoresis device from scratch with simple materials, and use electricity to separate colored dyes. Gel electrophoresis is a powerful technique used to manipulate and analyze DNA.

How to Extract DNA from a Strawberry (PDF 1,742.12 KB)

Description: This activity demonstrates how DNA can be isolated from a strawberry using common household materials.

Teacher Resources

DNA from the Beginning

Description: An animated primer of 75 experiments that made modern genetics

DNA Repair - Exploring the 2015 Nobel Prize Winning work of two NC scientists (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This University of North Carolina teaching module explores several built-in protection mechanisms our bodies use to prevent and repair damage to DNA. In 2015, Dr. Aziz Sancar from UNC Chapel Hill and Dr. Paul Modrich from Duke University were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on understanding DNA repair. Students will extract their own DNA from saliva and analyze REAL data from Dr. Sancars Nobel-winning research.

Forensics (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This module teaches shows students how DNA is analyzed by forensic scientists in order to link a DNA sample to a particular individual. To do this, forensic scientists use powerful molecular biology techniques such as PCR, restriction digests and gel electrophoresis. To learn more about DNA and how it is used by forensic scientists, students will isolate their own DNA from saliva. Using their new-found understanding of DNA and forensics techniques, students will help solve the case of the missing mascot.

Genetic Timeline (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: A lesson plan highlighting key discoveries that have led to our present understanding of the human genome

Genomics and Inheritance (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This University of North Carolina teaching module teaches students about the human genome and what makes us each unique, how traits are inherited, and how Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) are helping to identify genes responsible for complex human diseases. Hands on activities include the Genetic Wheel (which shows how inherited traits make each of us incredibly unique) and a GWAS activity where students get to identify a genetic marker contributing to a human disease.

Immunology (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This teaching module will give students an understanding of the two major arms of our immune system: innate immunity and adaptive immunity. Students will participate in two interactive games that demonstrate how antibiotic resistant bacteria come into existence and how vaccines work. This model will explore the importance of vaccines for public health.

Inside/Outside the Human Genome Project (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: In this cooperative learning activity for grades 6-8, students combine a jigsaw learning technique with an inside/outside review game to learn about DNA, genes, chromosomes and the Human Genome Project.

Introduction to Personal Genetics

Description: This lesson introduces students to the recent advances in genetics, genetic testing and personal genome sequencing, and presents some of the decisions and ethical challenges an individual may face regarding the use of this technology. It also highlights some of the likely benefits of personal genetics, such as gaining the motivation to take action to reduce health risks, tailoring medicines and interventions, and becoming more active and engaged healthcare consumers.

Origami DNA (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This activity brings to life the double helix structure of DNA by enabling your students to make their own paper model. Instructions and model templates are available for download.

Personalized Medicine (aka Pharmacogenomics) (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: In this teaching module students will learn about the concept of personalized medicine; how differences in our genes affect whether a drug treatment will be successful or have serious side effects, and how we can use this information to customize treatments for individual patients. Students will participate in a hands-on activity to further demonstrate how subtle genetic differences affect a patients response to medication.

Sequence Bracelets

Description: In this activity you can make a bracelet of DNA sequence from organisms including a human, chimpanzee, butterfly, carnivorous plant or flesh-eating bacteria.

Teacher Guide - Have Your DNA and Eat It Too (PDF 266.17 KB, Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Lesson plan on the structure of DNA and a class activity building an edible double helix

The Human Genome Project

Description: Download component parts of the educational CD, The Human Genome Project

Yummy Gummy DNA

Description: Make your own edible DNA double helix out of sweets.


50 Years of DNA - From Double Helix to Health, A Celebration of the Genome

Description: This webcast was created as a part of the April 2003 celebration of the completion of the Human Genome Project. It includes an interview with Dr. James Watson and Dr. Francis Collins.

Becoming a Scientist

Description: Here you will find detailed articles, video interviews, and information for students curious about becoming a scientist. You will learn more about the history of molecular biology and its leading scientists.

Cracking the Code of Life

Description: A video program that chronicles the race to decode the human genome

Cracking Your Genetic Code

Description: A public television episode on genomics and healthcare

Discovering the Double Helix

Description: A history and video interviews with scientist about the discovery of the double helix

Everything You Need To Know About Getting DNA Out of Strawberries

Description: In this video Drs. Eric Green and Carla Easter from the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health demonstrate how to extract DNA from strawberries using everyday household items. An English and Spanish How-To poster is available for download.

Genomics - Towards a Healthier You

Description: A webcast presenting information on why genetics is important to health, plus information on genetic counseling as a career. The singer and performer T-Boz shares her personal story about living with sickle cell anemia as one example of genetic health issues.

Telling Stories - Understanding Real Life Genetics

Description: A web-based multi-media education resource that uses real-life stories from the public and professionals to promote knowledge and understanding of genetics and how it impacts lives.

The Double Helix

Description: A video history on the discovery of the double helix

The Genome Era - What it Means to You

Description: The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, describes the genomic research adventure that is leading to new and more precise ways to diagnose, treat and prevent common and rare genetic diseases. A variety of careers in genomics is presented.

The Human Genome Project - Personal Stories

Description: This film features personal accounts from scientists from the USA and UK who were involved in the Human Genome Project.

The Pathway to Genomic Medicine

Description: Richard Gibbs, PhD, explains genomic medicine and its role in and relationship to genetic research, and outlines how technology and the study of genetics is transforming medicine.