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Thymus DNA Extractions

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    National Health Museum

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Thymus DNA Extractions

This laboratory exercise is designed to show learners how DNA can be extracted from a chunk of thymus (sweetbread) or liver. This experiment requires the use of a centrifuge (not included in cost of materials). Use this experiment to supplement any unit on genetics and to demonstrate how scientists study DNA. Adult supervision is recommended. This resource guide includes tips and suggestions for instructors as well as other DNA extraction experiments and a chart for learners to answer questions.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • fresh thymus (sweetbread or liver)
  • blender
  • beaker
  • sugar
  • pipet
  • centrifuge tube with cap
  • bufferin (325mg)
  • knife
  • graduated cylinders (10ml,100ml)
  • Epsom salts
  • distilled water
  • centrifuge
  • 95% ice cold ethanol
  • ice cold15 ml test tube rack or beaker
  • Palmolive detergent
  • non-iodized salt


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
      • Chemistry of Life
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Heredity and Genetics
      • DNA Structure and Function
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemistry of Life
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Hays, Lana


  • All Rights Reserved, Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum, ©2009