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Be a DNA detective

Full Day
Book Program
Year Levels


Students will be involved in a scenario- based program where they will try and solve 2 cases;  ‘Who is Henry’s father’ and ‘Who broke into the local milk-bar’.  Students will work out the paternity of Henry, the son of a wealthy family whose mother died in childbirth. To do this they will look at both blood types and DNA analysis.
DNA is considered the blue print of an organism, coding for proteins that determine the characteristics of that organism. 
All living things, from bacteria to organisms such as plants and animals, are made of tiny building blocks called cells. Each cell contains inherited information in the form of genes.  A gene is made of a length of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that has a message encoded in its structure. DNA is often called the genetic blueprint of life because it contains the genetic code for the characteristics for all organisms. 
DNA molecules contain a sugar phosphate backbone and two sets of base pairs; Adenine (A) combining with Thymine (T) and Guanine (G) combining with Cytosine (C). It is the order of these base pairs within the DNA double helix that differentiates living things.
Differences in DNA provide genetic diversity that is very useful to scientists. Some of the uses include identifying human remains, solving crimes, paternity testing, disease prevention and conservation of biodiversity. 

Key Learning Question

What scientific techniques can we use to determine paternity?

Prior Knowledge

A knowledge of the meaning of the terms gametes, genes, alleles, genotypes and phenotypes would be preferable.

Learning Intentions

In this program students will:

  • Learn how blood typing is determined.
  • Understand the DNA structure and some inheritance mechanisms.
  • Gain an understanding of how gel electrophoresis works.


Students will:

  • Test for blood groups using antibodies and learn about co-dominance.
  • Complete activities looking at the structure of DNA
  • Load and run an electrophoresis gel.

Learn Online

Ecolinc Learn Online is a virtual outreach learning management system (LMS) offering interactive online courses for students and teachers. These courses can be undertaken either as a pre-visit, post-visit or stand-alone.

Students are encouraged to do the course on Ecolinc Learn Online called Cold Case 1: The Romanovs as either a pre or post visit to Ecolinc. Students will assume the role of a forensic investigator to solve mysterious aspects of Russia’s historical Romanov tragedy.  In the process of analysing the evidence and forensic reports, students will learn valuable lessons about forensic scientific methods and practice.

Victorian Curriculum

Science: Level 9-10

  • Advances in scientific understanding often rely on developments in technology and technological advances are often linked to scientific discoveries (VCSSU115)
  • The transmission of heritable characteristics from one generation to the next involves DNA and genes (VCSSU119)
  • Select and use appropriate equipment and technologies to systematically collect and record accurate and reliable data, and use repeat trials to improve accuracy, precision and reliability (VCSIS136)
  • Analyse patterns and trends in data, including describing relationships between variables, identifying inconsistencies in data and sources of uncertainty, and drawing conclusions that are consistent with evidence (VCSIS138).