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DNA Extraction

45 Minutes

Grade level: Grades 9-12

Big idea

In this biochemistry lesson, students will construct a hypothesis about the molecular structure of DNA, and then use real-life laboratory skills to isolate their own DNA and accept or reject their hypothesis.

In the Film

Every single cell in your body has DNA in it — these complex polymers determine everything from the color of your eyes to whether or not you like cilantro. In the film, Dr. Carl June inserts special DNA into a patient’s T cells (a type of white blood cell that helps fight germs). This DNA trains the T cell to recognize cancer cells, and destroy them.


  1. Students will use chemistry to isolate and examine their own DNA.
  2. Students will make observations about their isolated DNA, and construct an explanation, based on their observations, for its molecular structure.

NGSS Standards

HS-LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins, which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.