4H Green Genes Curriculum
and the MyDNA Project

Alphabet Traits Fingerprinting

DNA Fingerprinting requires a lot of expensive lab equipment, but we can make a different kind of genetic fingerprint right here on this page. Just follow the five steps below!

Step 1 - Select Your Traits

For each of the following categories, please select the trait that best describes you. Then click the "Submit Traits" button.

Eye color:
Ear lobe type:
widow's peak
no widow's peak
Little finger:
no dimple
no freckles

Step 2 - Traits Readout

When traits are encoded in DNA, there are no spaces between any of the letters of the code. To make a "fingerprint" out of your traits as written in English, we'll display them without spaces, in one long string like DNA letters. Click the button below to display your selected traits "DNA style."

Step 3 - Cut Your Traits

To make an Alphabet Traits fingerprint, every person "cuts" their own string of traits between 12 pairs of letters. The same 12 letter pairs are used by everyone. To make a cut, you place 2 spaces between the letters of the pair wherever you find that pair in your traits. Some of the letter pairs will not occur in your particular traits--when that happens, you make no cuts for that letter pair, and move on to the next--until you have gone through all the letter pairs.

To see an example of how to "cut" traits, click this button:

Your traits are displayed "DNA style" in the slot below. Enter spaces using the letter pairs in the Letter Pairs Table below the slot.

Letter Pairs Table: Enter 2 spaces between these letters, wherever they occur in your traits
Letter Pair #1: EM Letter Pair #7: SP
Letter Pair #2: WN Letter Pair #8: GH
Letter Pair #3: GR Letter Pair #9: DI
Letter Pair #4: ZE Letter Pair #10: LL
Letter Pair #5: LF Letter Pair #11: NR
Letter Pair #6: TT Letter Pair #12: OF

When you have gone through all the letter pairs, click the "Check Your Cuts" button to finish Step 3. Your computer will check your cuts for you.

If your cuts do not agree with your computer's, look closely to find any errors. If you want to, you can try again- just Reload or Refresh this page!

Or, you may proceed to Step 4, but we'll use the cuts your computer came up with.

Step 4 - Sort the Fragments by Size

DNA fragments in a DNA fingerprint are sorted by size in a laboratory. We will arrange your trait fragments by size, starting with the largest fragments at the top.

Step 5 - Display Your Traits Fingerprint

In a DNA fingerprint, DNA fragments can only be seen by eye after several chemical processes performed in a laboratory. As a result of these treatments, the size-sorted DNA fragments create dark bands on a piece of photographic film, marking their relative positions. Different DNA fragments of the same size align together, and make a single band. This is different from what you see above in the Sort By Size box.

Click the button below to make your Alphabet Traits Fingerprint take on some of the characteristics of a DNA fingerprint.

Step 6 - Compare Your "Fingerprint"

To compare your Alphabet Traits fingerprint to others in your class or group, print out this page and cut out your fingerprint above. Your teacher may wish to make a copy of all the alphabet traits fingerprints in the group, so you probably better write your name on the back, or you could mix up yours with someone else's!

Here are some questions to think about as you compare:

That's all, folks! Hope you have enjoyed Alphabet Traits Fingerprinting.


This activity was adapted by the MyDNA Project for the 4H Green Genes curriculum, from the "Sentence Splitting: DNA Fingerprints" activity of the Teachers Section of the Iowa Academy of Science. Funding fo rthe online adaptation of this activity was provided by Agriculture in the Classroom, a USDA program.