Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 4-12, students explore BrainPOP features and resources to learn about DNA, focusing specifically on the modern uses of DNA. Students will produce a newscast about one of the ways we’re using DNA today.

Students will:

  1. Share what they know about DNA with a focus on ways DNA is being used today.
  2. Watch a BrainPOP movie about DNA.
  3. Use the Make-a-Map tool to identify ways we are using DNA today.
  4. Produce a newscast about DNA’s modern uses.

Materials:

  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard
  • DNA news articles

Preparation:

 
  • Preview the movie DNA to plan for any adaptations.
  • Bring in news stories about how DNA is being used today.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Ask students what they know about DNA, and specifically how DNA is being used today. If they need prompting, give a few examples, such as developing genetically modified foods or figuring out why some people get diseases.
  2. After the class has had a chance to brainstorm, project the movie DNA on the whiteboard. Read aloud, or invite a volunteer to read, the description that appears at the bottom of the screen. Then show the movie to the the whole class once through without pausing.
  3. After watching once as a class, have students open the DNA Make-a-Map at their own computers or devices.  As they watch, have them create a concept map identifying ways we use DNA today. The movie addresses a couple ideas, but allow time for students to research others. Invite them to open a second window to read the associated Newsela and the FYI articles Discoveries and Inventions and Flora and Fauna, as well as any articles you brought to class, and add ideas to their concept maps.   
  4. Next, have students select one of the ways we are using DNA today and produce a newscast about it, either using Make-a-Movie or Creative Coding, if your school has access to it. You may choose to have students work in pairs.
  5. Finally, invite students to share their newscasts with the class.

Extension Activities:

  • Students to put their knowledge of DNA to the test by taking the DNA Challenge.
  • Now that they’ve researched the many ways we’re using DNA today, have students consider the pros and cons of new technologies with the DNA T-Chart activity. Take this activity one step further by having them take a side and write a persuasive essay defending their point of view with facts.