identity and DNA cartoon

Figure 1. Identity and DNA cartoon

body outline

Figure 2. Body outline.

genes versus environment

Figure 3. Genes versus environment.

eye colors in class

Figure 4. Eye colors in class.

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 in Figure 2.


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


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 (see Figure 3). 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.
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 (see Figure 4).


    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