The Basics of DNA
Your body contains 50 trillion tiny cells, and almost every one of them contains the complete set of instructions for making you. These instructions are encoded in your DNA. DNA is a long, ladder-shaped molecule. Each rung on the ladder is made up of a pair of interlocking units, called bases, that are designated by the four letters in the DNA alphabet - A, T, G and C. 'A' always pairs with 'T', and 'G' always pairs with 'C'.
Genetics is the study of you and how you are related to every living creature on earth.
Genetics: the scientific study of heredity: how particular qualities or traits are transmitted from parents to offspring.
DNA is an amazing chemical present in every cell. It contains all the information cells need to make a fish a fish, or you YOU.
All humans start out as a single cell and grow into trillions of cells. DNA tells the single cell to divide into two cells, then four, then eight — until a whole body forms. It controls the growth of EVERYTHING, from your head to your toestraits are transmitted from parents to offspring.
DNA also influences many individual traits, such as whether you are a boy or a girl and whether you are tall or short.
DNA is Organized Into Chromosomes
The long molecules of DNA in your cells are organized into pieces called chromosomes. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Other organisms have different numbers of pairs - for example, chimpanzees have 24 pairs. The number of chromosomes doesn't determine how complex an organism is - bananas have 11 pairs of chromosomes, while fruit flies have only 4.
Genetics can answer questions like
- Why are eyes different colors?
- Why can some people roll their tongues?
- Why do I look like my grandfather when he was younger?
Heredity - process through which traits are passed from parents to offsprings.
Traits can be inherited or given to us by our parents or acquired. Acquired traits are developed after we are born because of our environment.
Acquired Traits - traits that are learned, influenced by your environment, or brought on purposely.
Inherited traits - traits (characteristics) that we receive from our parents.
Scientists have recently completed collecting information about the human genome.
Genome:all the genetic material in the chromosomes of a particular organism.
They can now study in great detail many things about how we are made. Some hope to find the cures for many diseases. Others are curious about cloning techniques, and one mammal has already been cloned: Dolly the Sheep.
Cloning: the process of making genetically identical copies.
Tour the Basics of DNA Click Here
All About Genetics - Kids' Health
Heredity - Brain Pop video
Heredity - Study Jams video
Inherited Traits - You Tube video - No words. Good for introduction.
The Story of Fido's Traits - You Tube video
Bill Nye Genetics - Video
Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms - In English and in Spanish
Michael's Inside Scoop
Learn Genetics - Tour the Basics
Where Did You Get Your Genes? To answer this question, work through this Discovery Lab.
The Mixed-Up Cells - Lesson
Whose Genes? - With Tiki the Penguin - Work through the first 4 chapters only.
Michael's Inside Scoop - Play the Game
Punnett Square - You Tube video
Where Did You Get That?
DNA - The Double Helix - From the official site of the Nobel Prize.
Monstor Story - Ask a biologist.
Monster Manual - Build a monster using your knowledge of genetics.
Build a Monster - Click in the yellow menu on this page for directions.
Introduction to Heredity - Lesson plans and activities to use in the classroom.
Human Face Lab
Crazy Plant Shop
Build a Fish - In this game, it's your job to design a fish with the right adaptations to survive.
I Want to Know - Heredity - United Streaming video
Dog Breeding - Interactive