A goldren retriever dog wearing black-framed glasses.

Roll some dice to make a unique puppy or kitten!

biology, physicsVincent Harrison / Science Museum of Minnesota / Twin Cities Public TelevisionMar 25, 2020

Every young person is a potential scientist!

Ask, imagine, plan, create, test, improve...then try again! It’s about being curious, creative, and wanting to play!

First, watch this great video to get in the scientist mindset: The Case of the Mysterious Molecule

At the TPT studios, as a part of Hands-on-Science, Science Museum instructors presented a great exploration into the world of DNA through fun, hands-on activities with a young studio audience.

Now you’re ready to practice being a scientist! Check out this activity that you can do with materials found around your home.

DNA is the building block of life on Earth. It’s a recipe to make every individual a little different. In this experiment, we’re going to roll a die and make a recipe for a puppy or kitten that you can draw.

Let’s build it!

For this project you’ll need:

  • A 6-sided die (or a dice app on a phone or computer)

  • Paper and pencil, crayons, or marker

What you do:
  • Decide if you want to draw a puppy, a kitten, or another pet!

  • Roll the dice for each trait below and write down or draw what you get. For example: If you roll a 2 on the first roll, you could write down brown, or just get out the brown crayon.

  • Once you’ve rolled for all four traits, draw your pet!

Roll #1: Fur color

1 = Black
2 = Brown
3 = Tan
4 = White
5 = Yellow
6 = Mix of two colors

Roll #2: Tail shape

1 = Short and stumpy
2 = Long with short hair
3 = Long and bushy
4 = Curly
5 = Short and stumpy
6 = Long and bushy

Roll #3: Fur type

1 = Short and straight
2 = Long and straight
3 = Short and curly
4 = Long and wavy
5 = Long and straight
6 = Short and curly

Roll #4: Legs

1 = Short and stumpy
2 = Medium
3 = Long
4 = Strong and muscular
5 = Short and stumpy
6 = Long

Example: If I rolled these numbers, what traits might my puppy or kitten have?

Answer: Black fur, a long and bushy tail, long and straight fur, and medium legs.

Let’s Talk About It

  • If you roll the dice again, will you get the same pet? Why or why not?

  • Are these all the traits a pet has? What other traits could you roll for?

Let’s Figure It Out

  • Have you seen an animal that looks similar to its parents?

  • Does DNA only tell how an animal looks? What else might DNA tell you about your pet? (Think about some of the things animals do!)

How Did Your Experiments Go?

We hope you had fun building your pet!
We want to see your creations and hear your results. Share your drawings on social media using #ShareYourDiscovery and let us know how things went!

And while you're at it, give us a follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for even more science learning opportunities, fun facts, and behind-the-scenes at the museum.

Inspired by the Genetic Science Learning Center, University of Utah: A Recipe for Traits.