Lean, Mean Information Machine: Using a Simple Model to Learn about Chromosomal DNA

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Learners observe a model of a cell and its chromosomal DNA made from a plastic egg and dental floss. Use this model to illustrate how much DNA is held in one cell. For comparison, multiple eggs can be prepared representing different species and their DNA. Introduce the demonstration by talking about the actual size of cells and DNA. Activity contains extension questions to assess learners' understanding.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
    • Heredity and Genetics
      • DNA Structure and Function
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemistry of Life
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Size and Scale

Informal Categories

  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Includes assesments for student learning:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • American Society for Microbiology; Gallo, Ph.D., Mark ; Wessner, Ph.D., David R.


  • All rights reserved, American Society for Microbiology, 2012