DNA Extraction from Cheek Cells

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DNA is the thread of life. Encoded in its genetic sequence is the information that makes each of us unique. This activity allows you to see the long, stringy strands of your own DNA, extracted from your cheek cells. This is a simplified version of the same technique routinely used by research scientists to isolate DNA. One word of caution, however, saliva is used in this activity, so all tubes, tips and cups should be disinfected either by autoclaving or rinsing in a 10% bleach solution. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Archive.org.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 50 ml tube with cap
  • liquid hand soap in a pump dispenser
  • plastic disposable pipet
  • squeeze bottle
  • glass stirring rod
  • 1.5 ml microfuge tube
  • Dixie cups
  • tap water
  • containers for disposing of cups, tubes, plastic pipets and stirring rods
  • alcohol for precipitating DNA
  • extra microfuge tubes (if samples are to be taken home)


  • Life Sciences
    • Heredity and Genetics
      • DNA Structure and Function


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Limited free access