What makes us similar and what makes us different? Carry out your own genetic variation investigation using a selection of household items.

All of the DNA in a cell is called the genome. Within the genome there are sections of DNA called genes. Genes provide specific instructions for our individual characteristics, like eye and hair colour. Sometimes there can be small differences in a gene, for example where there’s an A in one person there may be a T in someone else. These changes can alter the outcome of the instruction, like giving some people brown eyes and other people blue eyes. These differences are known as genetic variation. It is this variation that makes us all unique, whether in terms of hair colour, skin colour or the shape of our faces.

Researching DNA and comparing lots of genomes helps us to identify where there are differences in our genomes and what effects these differences may have on physical characteristics and our health.

This activity will encourage learners to investigate some variable physical characteristics and consider if they are the result of genetic
variation. They will learn how differences in the DNA code can have an impact on our appearance, from our eye colour to our hair colour.