National Informal STEM Education Network: DNA Nanotechnology

In this Short Activity, learners extract a sample of DNA from split peas and put it in an Eppendorf tube to take home.

“DNA Nanotechnology” is a facilitated, hands-on activity exploring deoxyribonucleic acid, a nanoscale structure that occurs in nature. Visitors extract a sample of DNA from split peas and put it in an Eppendorf tube to take home. They learn that nanoscientists study DNA to understand its biological function, and that they also use it to make other nanoscale materials and devices.


Researchers in the field of nanotechnology use DNA, a nanoscale structure present in the cells of every living thing, to make tiny shapes and patterns.


  • DNA is in the cells of every living thing.
  • DNA helps cells to grow and do their jobs.
  • DNA is a nanoscale material: it’s only 2 nanometers across.
  • Nano is very, very small.
  • Nanoscientists learn about and make things that are too small to see.
  • Researchers are studying DNA in order to understand its biological function. They are applying that knowledge in fields such as medicine.
  • Researchers in the field of nanotechnology are also exploring how DNA can be used as a raw material to create new materials and technologies.
  • Nanoscale effects occur in many places. Some are natural, everyday occurrences; others are the result of cutting-edge research.
  • Nanotechnology means working at small size scales, manipulating materials to exhibit new properties.


Nanometer-sized things are very small, and often behave differently than larger things do.

Scientists and engineers have formed the interdisciplinary field of nanotechnology by investigating properties and manipulating matter at the nanoscale.

Nanoscience, nanotechnology, and nanoengineering lead to new knowledge and innovations that weren’t possible before.


Science Topics
Technology Topics
Middle School, High School, Educator
6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade
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