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INFOGRAPHIC

How to Hack DNA

How to Hack DNA

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

Grades

6 - 12+

Subjects

Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Genetics

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.

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Director
Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
Author
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
other
Last Updated

May 20, 2022

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