DNA Spooling: Isolate DNA from Onion Cells

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In this experiment, learners isolate Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) from onion cells using a simple extraction procedure. The procedure will take approximately 10-15 minutes and will involve several stirring and filtering steps. At the end of the procedure, learners will be able to spool the long, sticky, stringy DNA strands out of 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:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • onion, chopped
  • salt
  • meat tenderizer
  • liquid soap
  • tea strainer
  • blender
  • glass rod
  • toothpick
  • 70% isopropanol
  • plastic cups


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Heredity and Genetics
      • DNA Structure and Function


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Limited free access