SOURCE Lesson Plans Detail

DNA Extraction and Analysis

Topic Forensic Science
Program Brown Science Prep
Developed by Andres Castro
Developer Type High school students

Performance / Lesson Objective(s)

  • 1.       The student will be able to investigate how DNA can be extracted from cells.
  • 2.       The student will be able to recognize components of DNA and understand how the information for specifying the traits of an organism is carried in the DNA
  • 3.       Students will be able to explore, organize, analyze, evaluate, make inferences, and predict trends in data.
  • 4.       The students will be able to evaluate models according to their adequacy in representing biological objects and events.
  • 5.       The students will be able to use models to show the structure of DNA and how this structure relates to the function of storing, copying, and transmitting information.
  • 6.       The students will be able to develop important academic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills that are necessary for their future success, including problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork

Lesson Materials

  • ·        Laptops computers.
  • ·        Textbooks: Biology- Miller and Levine. Chemistry Concepts and Applications
  • ·        Technology Web Extras: delivery bonus internet related information (See Supporting Web Information).
  • ·        CASE READING The Forensic Community’s Response to September 11: Chapter 9 pages 349-353 (extension – application activity)

Lesson Motivation

Teaching science to inner-city students in Providence, RI, poses many challenges including dealing with the effects of poverty. Moreover, these students must be treated with the care, compassion and knowledge that can provide them with opportunities to grow as intellects and humans. Within these students lies potential new knowledge that must be harnessed for the benefit of our country – these are the next stewards of the earth.

In order to best engage students, teachers must use techniques and lessons that present students with ways to connect prior and new knowledge. In that light, the interdisciplinary approach affords students opportunities to develop knowledge and insights, as well as develop valuable skills such as problem solving and communication. As a result, students learn to “think” like a scientist as well as gain self-confidence, self-efficacy, and a passion for learning. According to some researchers, some of the educational benefits of interdisciplinary learning including gains in the ability to recognize bias, think critically, tolerate ambiguity, acknowledge and appreciate ethical concerns.

Lesson Activities

The general goals of the current endeavor are about generating students that are able to full participants in our society. This means that students will gain scientific knowledge along with other “transportable” skills that will enable them to make observations, question, and demand publically verifiable evidence. Specifically, this project will focus on several scientific practices and disciplines including chemistry, biology, mathematics as well as English (for communication).

The type of activities described in this unit include developing and using models, planning and conducting investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematical and computational thinking, and constructing explanations; and to use these practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas (see Next Generation Science Standards attached). Students are also expected to demonstrate understanding of several engineering practices including design and evaluation.

Students will have use the content in this unit to hone skills in: analyzing and interpreting data, collecting, recording, and sharing observations. Moreover, students will use observations to describe patterns in the natural world in order to answer scientific questions. These lessons include opportunities for students to plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved. Moreover, students will integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably. In this process, students will draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. Reason abstractly and quantitatively. Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays.

By the time the unit is completed, students will have had multiple opportunities to learn new knowledge and demonstrate said knowledge by completing the required assessments as well as reflections. Providing students with these opportunities will encourage them to critically think as well as use their newly gained skills.

These lessons are designed for 9-10th grades, with differentiated instruction to address the needs of limited English proficiency and special needs students.

In these attached lessons, the students analyze the structure, function, and chemistry of DNA. DNA is an indispensable forensic tool. In this specific lesson, the student will be able to apply basic knowledge of DNA and also use the lab equipment and safety guidelines. They have the opportunity to think like scientists, asking questions, making claims, inferences, researching, and reaching conclusions. The students use electrophoresis techniques to run DNA, simulating the connection with the crime scene.

In the Transformation Lab, although the E. Coli strain is pathogenic bacteria, it is important to point out that this is a simulation Lab. We will simulate with another type of non-pathogenic bacteria. The purpose of this technique is to introduce a foreign plasmid into bacteria, the bacteria then amplifies the plasmid, making large quantities of it. With this technique, students will be able to understand how scientists apply knowledge of molecular biology, genetic engineering, anatomy, physiology, and also biotechnology. Therefore, students will be able to understand that the DNA can be transferred to another organism and by doing so, change the observable characteristics of that organism.

In the final lab activity, Building the Electrophoresis Chamber, the students will be able to understand systems as a whole, and this requires knowledge across several disciplines of study. Students can experience the relationship of electrophoresis, the technology of separating molecules, the engineering of electrophoresis equipment and the mathematical analysis of the experiment. Students will be part of a process of discovery and will answer questions about the world around them.


See the attached document here.

Wrap up / Conclusion

Ask and review questions- facts concepts, and reflections. (DOK3 Strategic Thinking) Form conclusions from experimental or observational data. Cite evidence and develop a logical argument for concepts. Research and explain a scientific concept.

·         What did you learn?

·         How did your team work/collaborate? Was there one or more people not fully participating in the process? Would you change any of the dynamics of the group? Team work

·         Group discussion, case study and analysis of data results. Have the students identify and analyze physical evidence from O.J. Simpson case. Collection and preservation of biological evidence for DNA analysis. The combined DNA Index system (CODIS).

·         Application and critical thinking questions.      

Follow up

See the attached document here.

Supporting Web Information

See the attached document here.


See the attached document here.

Pre Assessment Plan

See the attached document here.

Post Assessment Plan

See the attached document here.

Overview / Purpose / Essential Questions

  • What are the appropriate roles for scientific technology and human judgment in bringing criminal charges against a defendant?
  • What is the relationship between DNA replication and the cell cycle?

Alignment Info

Audience(s) High school students
STEM Area(s) Applied Math
Physical Sciences (RI GSE) PS1.9-11.1a
Students demonstrate an understanding of characteristic properties of matter by … utilizing appropriate data (related to chemical and physical properties), to distinguish one substance from another or identify an unknown substance.
Activity Type(s) Lecture
Grade Level(s) High School
Version 1
Created 08/22/2017 03:12 PM
Updated 08/22/2017 03:41 PM