DNA is for Families Module


The Bio-Bus Program has been funded by the National Institutes of Health’s SEPA Program to develop activities that make DNA fun and exciting for young learners.

We find that children as young as five pick up fundamental concepts of DNA, genes, and inheritance with ease.

This 90-minute program is designed to provide children (and their parents!) with the appropriate fundamental concepts in genetics.

Parents and children explore together the ways in which individuals are similar and the ways that they are different, using photos of dogs and their owners. They determine whether or not they exhibit specific genetic traits, such as tongue rolling and eye color. They make their own model of a DNA molecule.

They then learn about dominant and recessive traits and use their newly acquired knowledge to make a DNA “Bag Baby”. They are able to place geometric shapes symbolizing genes for eye, hair, nose, mouth and face color (chosen at random from two “Bag Parents”) onto two strings of DNA. Then, based on the dominant and recessive character of each gene, they select the color for the facial feature that fits the genetic predictions. In this way, they create a “Bag Baby” that is uniquely theirs.

Children and their adult companions may take their DNA model and Bag Babies home with them to share with the rest of the family.

Pairing Dogs with Owners Activity
Girl with DNA Model
Mother and Daughter with DNA model
Parents get to make Bag Babies, too!
Grade Level: K-5th, with parents and younger or older siblings welcome

Where Taught: Library activity room or classroom

# Students: Maximum of 30 people per presentation (including adults and tag-alongs)

Time needed for presentation: 90 minutes. When teaching multiple presentations, we need 5-10 minutes in between sessions to prepare for the next one.