The Education team at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex strives to bring fun, hands-on activities, and demonstrations to offer to guests. DNA extraction is one of our guests' favorite activities because it's easy, simple, and touchable. Yes, touchable!
Well, you can duplicate this experience at home or school with the procedure provided below. We're sure you and your youngsters will be as surprised and inspired as our guests.
What you need:
- Glass from your kitchen or a beaker
- Plastic cup
- Dish soap
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Paper coffee filter
- Strawberry or any other type of berry
- Wooden stir stick or Q-tip
- Sandwich bag
- Latex or rubber gloves
How to do it:
- Take one whole strawberry or another berry and remove any green/non-edible material from the fruit with scissors.
- Place the fruit in a sandwich bag, close the bag, and gently smash the fruit for two minutes to start the cell wall breakdown.
- To prepare the DNA extraction solution, add the following to the glass:
- Two (2) teaspoons of dish soap
- One (1) teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of water
- Add two (2) teaspoons of the solution into the sandwich bag with the smashed fruit.
- Re-close the bag and very gently mix the solution with the fruit material. Make sure not to create bubbles with the detergent inside the bag; too many bubbles will negatively affect the experiment.
- Take the plastic cup, put a coffee filter inside, and add the mixture of the extraction solution and the fruit material to the filter.
- Allow this solution to strain for about two to five minutes. Then, if needed, gently squeeze the remaining liquid out of the filter if it is taking too long.
- Add an equal amount of alcohol to the extracted solution within the plastic cup. Please DO NOT STIR OR MIX!
- Let this solution stand in the cup for about two to five minutes. Then, watch as the cloudy DNA rises to the surface of the cup away from the fruit solution.
- Take the cup and tilt it slightly on a side, grab a wooden stick or Q-tip and gently pick up the DNA from the cup. Be careful not to mix the DNA and the solution because the DNA will break apart. Add the DNA to another clean plastic bag to better observe it.
Now, you have completed a DNA extraction! You were not only able to see the DNA, but smell the fragrance of the fruit since this process enhances it.
We hope you enjoy this at home science experiment as much as our guests.
For more information about the camps and education programs we offer, our website.