How to Hack DNA

How to Hack DNA

Use this infographic to explore how scientists use hypotheses to design experiments and develop new technologies.


6 - 12+


Biology, Genetics, Chemistry, Engineering

NGS Resource Carousel Loading Logo
Loading ...

Begin by having students brainstorm how understanding nature might help scientists create new technology. Introduce students to CRISPR by first reading the overview, “How to Hack DNA.” Students can use the overview and “How It Works In Nature” section to summarize how the process occurs naturally in bacteria.

Next, write the steps for the scientific method on the board (make an observation, ask a question, form a hypothesis, make a prediction, test the prediction, and use the results to make new hypotheses). Ask: How might scientists have used the scientific method to develop CRISPR-Cas9 technology upon observing how CRISPR works in nature? Encourage students to reference the infographic when formulating their answers. Use these questions to guide the discussion.

  • What is one hypothesis scientists might have proposed based on their observations? (Student ideas may vary. They may hypothesize that CRISPR can cut DNA in human cells as well as bacterial cells, for example.)
  • How might scientists have tested this hypothesis? (For example, scientists can introduce Cas9 into human cells with a guide RNA to bring about a change in the gene.)
  • What variables would they use in their experiment? (A possible answer is the amount of Cas9 added to the cell.)

Then have students read through the rest of the infographic to learn how CRISPR is used in the lab and how it is applied to global issues. Finally, have students summarize what they have learned by discussing how scientists moved from observation to experiment to new invention using the scientific method.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. They will best know the preferred format. When you reach out to them, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource.


If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.


Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.


Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.

Related Resources