The building blocks of life

Our bodies are made up of many, many cells. A single cell is too small to see without the help of a microscope. And each cell has a certain job: some cluster to make up our muscles, others form our bones, others yet again our skin—and altogether, they build up our bodies. However, how does each cell know what to do? That’s where a very important component of a cell comes into play: DNA. This molecule tells the cells what to do. In this week’s Pop-Up Science edition, you will learn what DNA is, how it works and why it’s so important.

Activities for this week

DNA safari in the living room

Today, we show you the game DNAScope. IST Austria scientists Robert Beattie and Florian Pauler from the Hippenmeyer group developed this game to turn you into DNA researchers. Imagine that you are in a national park and need to identify animals. Unfortunately, the animals hide too well, and the only way to find out what kind of animals they are, is by looking at their DNA traces. Here, you can find the instructions and see how our junior researcher Veronika performs in the game. Have fun!

DNA safari in the living room (German only)

DNA scientists Isabella Tomanek

Today, you had the opportunity to ask our researcher Isabella all you ever wanted to know about DNA. You have sent us many questions, and here are now all the answers. Isabella is researcher at IST Austria, where she studies genetic networks.

DNA scientists Isabella Tomanek (German only)

The DNA of a banana

Yesterday, we already showed you what a DNA strand looks like. However, we only did that with a model. Today, we get our hands dirty and show you how you can see real DNA at home. Our DNA researcher Silvia has prepared a cool DIY experiment for this purpose. Can you extract the DNA from a banana?

Extracting DNA from bananas (English video)

The secret of DNA

The DNA in our cells is constantly being copied, and broken bits are being repaired. We don’t even notice this happening. Even though our DNA doesn’t have a brain, it can duplicate itself without any help from outside. How does that work and what is the secret of DNA?

(German only)

What is DNA?

Did you know that every single cell in your body contains all your genes? The genes are sitting on a molecule called DNA, which looks like a twisted rope ladder.. In this worksheet, we have collected some more exciting facts about DNA for you. Can you answer all the questions?

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