I recently profiled the website DnaTube which hosts videos and animations that explain various facets of genetics and DNA. Another source of valuable information is the Learn.Genetics website hosted by the Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah.
According to the website:
“The Genetic Science Learning Center is an outreach education program located in the midst of bioscience research at the University of Utah. Our mission is to help people understand how genetics affects their lives and society. Our educational resources provide accurate and unbiased information about topics in genetics and bioscience. Designed for non-research audiences, our materials are interactive and jargon-free, target multiple learning styles, and often convey concepts through visual elements.“
One of my favorite sections is the “Do It Yourself Genetic Research.” It doesn’t give information about cloning lemurs or creating genetically modified apples, rather it describes in simple steps how to use household items to extract and purify DNA from almost anything. Note that this is the very same procedure that the genetic testing companies use to isolate DNA from your cheek swabs!
Interestingly, I did a similar lab as an undergraduate (except I used mouse spleen), and seeing DNA emerge from the solution and twirl around a stick was one of the most memorable moments of my college education. I repeated this numerous times during my graduate research, and each time it was a miracle to see it happen.
Here are some interesting sections from the site: