DNA Forensics

In this lesson, students explore how restriction enzymes can be used to create unique DNA fingerprints for individuals. In the lab portion, students use restriction digest and gel electrophoresis to try and solve an innocuous crime scenario- “The Case of the Missing Klay Thompson Jersey.” Using their gel electrophoresis results, students make a claim about “Who done it?” and support it with evidence and reasoning. There are also many other ways to frame this lesson using the same resources, including exoneration of the wrongfully incriminated, tracking wildlife poachers, and finding missing persons.

In the online version of this lesson, students consider the same case and watch point of view videos to describe what happens during the lab portion. They then use sample results to write a claim and provide evidence and reasoning.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will use evidence from their experiments to support their stated claim
  • Students can describe how restriction enzymes can be used to differentiate between variations in the sequence of human DNA (and other organisms)
  • Core skills in molecular biology including micropipetting and gel electrophoresis are appropriately applied by students during their investigations

Prior Knowledge

  • Getting Started Series Parts 1-3 from BABEC to learn about DNA extraction, Micropipetting, and gel electrophoresis
  • Variation in DNA sequence (order of bases) exists among humans and other organisms

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Disciplinary Core Ideas:

LS3.A – Inheritance of Traits
“…not all DNA codes for a protein…” The regions the restriction enzymes cut vary among individuals and typically do not code for a protein

LS3.B – Inheritance of Traits
“…distribution of traits on genetic and environmental factors”

Science and Engineering Practices:

  • Planning and Carrying out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Intercepting Data Patterns

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Amanda Cherry
Paradise Valley HS
Phoenix, AZ

The curriculum materials are beautifully prepared and easy to understand-thanks for preparing such great resources that are easy to use.

Byron Gougoumis
Burton HS
San Francisco, CA

All Babec labs are well organised and modelled effectively with clear, helpful procedural instructions, easily transposed to the classroom.

Gianne Souza
Lincoln HS
San Francisco, CA

The online resources are SO well done! The best I have ever had. Very little modification to make them clear and easy to follow. I have done two BABEC lessons and they are so well made that they made teaching online fun again.

Heather Johnson
Burlingame HS
Burlingame, CA

When doing the BABEC labs I consistently hear students say they feel like "real scientists."

Marianne Gudmundsson
Glenbrook South HS
Glenview, IL

Well organized and scaffolded; flexible structure and can be used partially or as a whole. This unit can be used as is...superbly written and thought out...incorporates many skills and allows student collaboration and student choice/voice.

Rocky Ng
South San Francisco HS
South San Francisco, CA

Thank you for creating these curriculum materials. I am beyond grateful for the quality lessons, on-the-point figures/videos, and easy-to-navigate biotechnology curriculum.

Thi Ngo
Capuchino HS
San Bruno, CA

The level of support really made the whole process easier and encouraged me to continue incorporating biotech into my curriculum. Thank you for the live assistance during the labs and for responding to inquiries so promptly and with such urgency.

Anonymous Teacher

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Anonymous Teacher

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Anonymous Teacher

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