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LESSON PLAN in Interdisciplinary, History, ACS National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program. Last updated June 09, 2023.


In this lesson, students will learn about the significant contributions to chemistry by Dr. Marie Maynard Daly, the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in chemistry in the U.S. Students will read an article and engage in related activities that help to promote literacy in the science classroom. Parts of this lesson could be used as plans for a substitute teacher. This lesson provides teachers with strategies to address diversity, equity, and inclusion in the chemistry curriculum.

Grade Level

High School

NGSS Alignment

This lesson will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
    • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information


By the end of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Understand the significant chemistry contributions of Dr. Marie Maynard Daly.
  • Recognize the type of work that chemists do.
  • Explain that DNA can be extracted through a chemical process.
  • Provide fundamental information about the importance of DNA.
  • Understand that cholesterol and heart attacks are related.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of:

  • History
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Health
  • Medicine
  • Biochemistry


Teacher Preparation:
Lesson: Approximate times for students to complete each activity in the lesson:

  • Anticipation Guide: 10 minutes
  • Reading: 20 minutes
  • Who is Dr. Daly?: 20 minutes
  • Commemorating Dr. Daly’s Accomplishments: 60 - 80 minutes
  • Strawberry DNA Extraction: 60 minutes


  • Reading materials
  • Access to internet

Strawberry DNA Extraction:

  • Strawberries
  • Pure water
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent
  • Salt, NaCl
  • Isopropanol (Rubbing alcohol)
  • Plastic baggie
  • Filter paper
  • Funnel
  • Erlenmeyer flask
  • Graduated cylinders (50ml, 100ml)
  • Toothpick
  • Scale
  • Weigh boats
  • Pipette or medicine dropper


  • Always wear safety goggles when handling chemicals in the lab.
  • Students should follow appropriate safety procedures for Strawberry DNA extraction lab.
  • Teachers should provide instructions for cleanup of materials and disposal of chemicals after the completion of the lab.
  • Note that Isopropanol is a highly flammable liquid and vapor. Keep away from heat, sparks, open flames, and hot surfaces. Use caution when using.
  • Remind students to wash their hands thoroughly before leaving the lab.

Teacher Notes


Lesson Overview:

The lesson includes multiple components, as outlined individually below. The Reading is essential for all of the activities. Teachers can choose to do one or all of the included activities. Student handouts and corresponding answer keys are provided for each item described below:

  • Activity: Anticipation Guide
    • Students identify whether they agree or disagree with the ten statements. After they complete the reading, they can adjust their answers and rephrase “disagree” statements so they read true.
  • Reading: Marie Maynard Daly
  • Activity: Who is Dr. Daly?
    • This activity includes a short video with an accompanying student response sheet, followed by a class discussion.
    • Students first watch a video about Dr. Daly’s life and career. While watching they will identify new things they’ve learned and ask questions about what they want to know more about.
    • After the video, teachers should lead a class discussion. Teachers should highlight Daly’s role in determining the structure of DNA. In the 1950s, Daly and her colleagues investigated the composition of histones, which are proteins. In the nucleus, DNA wraps around histones to allow DNA to condense into coils. This was important in figuring out the structure of DNA. In addition, Daly’s 1953 published research with Vincent Allfrey and Alfred Mirsky on RNA and protein synthesis was cited in the 1962 Nobel Prize speech by Watson and Crick.
    • She conducted research in the 1950s that investigated the important link between cholesterol and heart attacks. This is still relevant today.
  • Activity: Commemorating Dr. Daly’s Accomplishments
    • Place the students in teams of 3-4 students to prepare a creative poster about Dr. Daly’s life. They will use their responses about the film to help prepare their posters. Additionally, students should be encouraged to complete additional research. Provide the students with the link to the new ACS NHCL Landmark Page about Dr. Daly to gather additional background information for their posters.
      • As an option, teachers could assign different parts of Daly’s life to different groups. Or different achievements. Be creative, get the students involved!
    • Gallery Walk: After creating their posters, display the posters on the walls and have students participate in a gallery walk so they can learn from (and evaluate) their peers. Teachers can make it a poster competition for fun!
  • Activity: Strawberry DNA Extraction
    • This lab was inspired by and modified (with permission) from the AACT lab: Strawberry DNA & CSI
    • Students will carry out a procedure to extract DNA from a strawberry.
    • Below is background information related to DNA extraction for teacher reference:
      • DNA (deoxyribonucleaic acid) is a molecule found in the cells of living organisms. DNA contains the information needed for an organism to live and grow. DNA is like a blueprint that tells the body how to grow. A gene is a segment of DNA, and a chromosome is a little packet of genes. Therefore, analysis of DNA allows scientists to analyze the chromosomes and genes in an organism.
      • Almost all of the cells in an organism contain DNA. Because DNA is such a long and complex molecule, the DNA of almost every individual living thing on Earth has a unique composition. An exception is organisms that are clones, which are genetically identical to each other. Because every person has unique DNA, analysis of DNA found at a crime scene can be used to identify the person it came from.
    • What is actually happening during the DNA extraction process?
      • Squishing the strawberries breaks the cells, releases the cell nuclei.
      • Adding the soap breaks down the fatty membranes of the cells and breaks down the nuclear membrane, releasing the DNA.
      • The salt causes DNA molecules to stick together and to separate from the proteins in the cell.
      • The filtration separates the extraction mixture with the DNA dissolved in it from the pulp, or leftover cell material.
      • Adding alcohol causes the DNA to precipitate out of solution.