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What Sort?

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    University of Nebraska State Museum

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What Sort?

In this activity (on pages 22-33), learners do the kind of work genetic scientists do, sorting and comparing (images of) genetic material strands called chromosomes. First, learners use two meters of thread to represent the length of DNA in a cell. Then, using a special chart called a karyotype, learners sort the genetic material of three babies based on the size and pattern of each chromosome. The introductory "What We Know" section introduces the concepts of genes, chromosomes, and genetic science.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • tape
  • scissors
  • colored pencil
  • thread 2 meters long (6 feet)
  • pencil
  • 1 copy of Baby’s Chromosomes (p. 28)


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
      • Cell Division
    • Heredity and Genetics
      • Human Genetics
      • DNA Structure and Function


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Designed specifically for

  • Rural dweller

Culture, ethnicity, and gender

  • Girls

    • Explicity developed for this group


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection:

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All Rights Reserved, University of Nebraska State Museum and Nebraska 4-H, ©2002

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation Informal Science Education Program, 9909496
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute


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