Worlds of David Darling > Children's Encyclopedia of Science > Identity and DNA


identity and DNA cartoon

presented by

It's In Your Genes sponsors

What Makes You Unique?

What makes you unique? Draw or stick your ideas on a print-out of the body outline below.

You can include what you look like and the things you like to do.

body outline

What Does DNA Do?

DNA contains the information needed to build living things. From plants to people DNA shapes our world. Find out below what is written in your DNA.

Lots of our characteristics are decided by our DNA. DNA determines if you are a sheep or a human being, the color your eyes, and how all your body parts are made and work together. what have you inherited from your parents?

Your DNA will be 99.5% the same as everyone else on the planet. The DNA we share is what makes us human. person and monkey

The 0.5% of DNA that we don't share with everyone else is the bit that makes you unique. This is the part of our DNA that decides whether we are a boy or a girl, and whether we are a boy or a girl and whether we have blonde or brown hair. boy and girl

You inherited half of your DNA from your mother and half from your father. This is the reason people in families often look alike. What characteristics do you think you inherited from your mom and dad? what did you inherited from your mom and dad?

Is It In Your Genes?

Which of your characteristics are decided by your genes?
Which characteristics are shaped by your lifestyle and environment?

List the characteristics that you think are decided by your genes and which by your environment.

genes versus environment

Here are some characteristics to help get you started: eye color, height, name, favorite color, where you live, gender.

Will any of your characteristics be listed in both columns?

What Is DNA?

DNA is a bit like the recipe for life. Your body uses the information stored in your DNA to build everything you need to live.

Your body is made up of lots and lots of cells. There are more cells in your body than people on Earth. Different kinds of cells make up each part of your body. For example lots of skin cells join together to form your skin. skin cells

Each of your cells keeps its DNA in a special compartment called the nucleus. Every cell in your body except red blood cells contains a nucleus and a copy of your DNA. cell and nucleus

In the nucleus your DNA is wound up very tightly to form 23 pairs of chromosomes. chromosome

Each chromosome is made up of lots of genes. Your genes provide instructions for building different parts of your body. gene and DNA

Record Your Characteristics

Characteristics are the things that help make you unique.
Write down the following characteristics about yourself:
  • Name

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Eye color

  • Hair color

  • Height
Now make a chart to show the different eye colors that people in your class have.

eye colors in class

Fascinating Facts

  • DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid

  • DNA is found in all living things

  • You are unique. No one will have exactly the same DNA as you

  • If you took all of the DNA from a single human cell and laid all the strands end to end it would be about 2 meters long

  • All the cells in your body contain DNA except your red blood cells

  • We share half of our DNA with bananas