September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

It’s “(DNA for) Dinner” Time

Posted: Sunday, May 1st, 2011

by Peggy G. Lemaux and Barbara Alonso

Update as of January 27, 2014. There has been a change since this article was published in May 2011. In order to download the free curricular materials you are now asked to complete a request form. Please visit http://ucbiotech.org/dnafordinner/ for details.

The creation of this 4-H/afterschool curriculum, “DNA for Dinner”, was sparked by development of the national 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) initiative. The 4-H program, which currently involves nearly 6 million youth in urban, suburban and rural communities, created the new SET initiative to try to reach another 1 million young people. The SET initiative encouraged curriculum development in wide topic areas, but biotechnology curricula were noticeably absent!

The five lessons in the “DNA for Dinner” curriculum, designed for fifth through eighth graders, include the following.

  • Dare to Be Different, focusing on organisms and genetic diversity
  • Language of Life, covering genomes and the genetic code
  • DNA for Dinner, focusing on genes, DNA, and reproduction
  • Building Blocks to Organisms covering amino acids, proteins and enzymes and
  • From Bread to Biotech, focused on classical breeding, genetic engineering, and restriction enzymes.

Each lesson has an introduction, open-ended discussion questions, math puzzles and three to five hands-on, computer-based or physical activities to demonstrate key points of the lesson. All lessons are available for download as PDFs at http://ucbiotech.org/dnafordinner. Lesson content was designed to meet the National Science Education Standards and can be used in whole or in part in various after-school and during-school venues.

An example of the learning goals, an activity and a math puzzle from Lesson 1, “Dare to Be Different”, is shown below.

What We Learn in Lesson 1. That all living things, organisms, are made up of cells. That the variation in organisms reflects their diversity. That the variety comes from the different genes and the characteristics they encode. And that organisms with many similar traits, and thus with similar genetic information, may be related.

An Activity from Lesson 1. Fruit and Vegi Hunt

DIRECTIONS:

Remind participants that fruits and vegetables have different characteristics and also different names. Challenge them to find in the word search a fruit or vegetable that has the characteristics given in the hint.


A Math Activity from the Math Menu of Lesson 1.

If there are 3,500 species of mammals and 350,000 different species of plants, how many times more plant species are there?

For more information, please visit http://ucbiotech.org/dnafordinner.

Peggy G. Lemaux is the cooperative extension specialist at University of California, Berkeley and Barbara Alonso is the communications specialist at University of California, Berkeley.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

2 Responses

  1. When I click on the printable version of the word search, it is not found….so more searching I guess, unless you have some different directions.

  2. Dear Mary Ann,
    Thank you for your comment! I did some digging and found that since we published the article, they have changed their download procedure. The information is still free, but you now have to fill out a form to obtain access to it. Please visit http://ucbiotech.org/dnafordinner/ from there you will see information about how to access the curriculum.

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