Vernier Science Education - June  2024


Forums / Life Science / DNA and RNA

Life Science


Author Post
Tina Alcain Tina Alcain 3305 Points

My Biology students just took their Genetics Exam and we will be moving on to DNA and RNA next week. They did not do as well as I thought they were going to on the exam and I cannot explain why...except they probably did not study. I felt I went over the material enough times and gave everyone enough chance to ask for help with the information. The only students that did well on the exam were the ones that kept up with their assignments and paid attention in class. Now we will start the unit on RNA and DNA and I was hoping I could get some activities on DNA to help the students visualize how is it created. I got a cool activity from another teacher and I will post it as soon as I figure out how. It has the students creating their sequences using beads and pipe cleaners and they keep it as a key chain when they are done. If anyone has any other things I can do with the kids please let me know. Thanks!

Loren Nomura Loren Nomura 4055 Points

Why not try having them make a DNA model Here's an online worksheet and cutout they can do. Also have them come up with creative slogans. Last year's students came up with the slogan enzymes can "unzip your genes" - my kids are high schoolers, figures they'd come up with that

Tina Alcain Tina Alcain 3305 Points

I printed out the activity, Loren and I will look it over and change it up for next year. Thanks!

Patty McGinnis Patricia McGinnis 25635 Points

Some of the vendors have some relatively inexpensive kits that the kids can assemble and then unzip to show DNA replication. There are also some fun songs The one below is to Row, Row, Row your boat. I like to have a song leader each day lead the class in singing the song at the beginning and end of the period. This really helps the kids learn the basic structure of DNA. To get them to learn the song I promise them an extra credit point per stanza on a quiz if they can write the song down. I teach 7th grade; I have had SENIORS coming back to me singing this song. I also had a student who moved about 2000 miles away email me when he was in high school to tell me that he shared this with his biology teacher who really liked it. The song is goofy but fun. We love DNA Made of nucleotides Sugar, phosphate, and a base Bonded down one side Adenine and thymine Make a lovely pair Cytosine without guanine Would feel very bare If you are looking for an excellent website on DNA, is fabulous and written for high school students. This pbs site is also helpful You could also try some interactive sites such as the [url=]University of Utah [/url] site which has some excellent interactives on it, including building a DNA molecule and protein synthesis. By the way, April 25 is National DNA Day. The website may contain lessons you can use.

Tina Alcain Tina Alcain 3305 Points

This activity sounds so goofy but I think the 10th graders would really like it. I can't sing worth a lick, but I'm sure we could get through it since it is the tune for Row, Row, Row Your Boat. I will definitely try this out and see what happens. Thanks!

Lynn Yamada Lynn Yamada 3020 Points

Hi Tina- -I help the students understand the basic structure of DNA with DNA origami folding. - then I have them complete "Case of the Missing Muffin" - it's a w.s. that just has them repetatively practice going from DNA to RNA to amino acid. - Next they watch a short video from NIH "Our Molecular Selves" and they draw out the process of transcription and translation. - This year I tried two new activities- Protein synthesis paper model ( I didn't print out all the instructions for the students, but did the bases and DNA sequence on different colors. They really enjoyed this activity. For Honors level, we built marshmallow models ( but I modified it- they worked backwards from amino acids- RNA - DNA. Hope this helps! If you have any questions, let me know! Lynn

Nancy Iaukea Nancy Iaukea 2710 Points

For introduction to this topic with our 7th graders, we do a DNA and karyotype labs. In the DNA labs we have them build a strand of DNA (as mentioned in a few of the replies earlier). A new "twist" we did this year was to laminate the completed DNA strands together and make one long strand that we twisted and hung up int the classroom. The students actually got a "visual" that way to help with internalizing the concepts. Then we follow with a simple Karyotype lab that has the students connect genetic traits and the stucture of the DNA. I heard several comments from the students that referred back to the prior labs - that gives me hope that they are retaining at least some of what we are teaching!

Tina Alcain Tina Alcain 3305 Points

Lynn, I am curious to see how to fold origami so that it relates to DNA and RNA. Do you have any instructions for that activity? And I tried to open the instructions you posted and it said that it was not found. Just wondering if you could post it again. Thanks!

Lynn Yamada Lynn Yamada 3020 Points

Hi Tina- Here are a couple of sites to try. Sorry I left my thumb drive at school that has it. Let me know if they don't work. this one is already colored I like having the students color it themselves because it helps them visually see that only T-A match and G-C match. A lot of the students like to pick colors that look nice together because they say they want "nice genes"! :) lynn

Erin Howe Erin Howe 1405 Points

Thanks for all of the resources that are posted in this forum!!

Tina Alcain Tina Alcain 3305 Points

Thanks everyone for the posts. I printed out the second Origami DNA activity and will try it today...

Alyce Dalzell Alyce Dalzell 64075 Points

The oragami is a great idea! I would also like to open discussion of modifying the curriculum for students. Many times I have struggled with helping students understand the process of DNA replication. Any reccomendations?

Gerry Clarin Gerry Clarin 2125 Points

I have a question on transcription. If someone asked you to transcribe an RNA sequence from a particular DNA sequence. For example GACTGCATA. Would the answer be this GACUGCAUA or this CUGACGUAU. For some reason by brain wants to pick the first answer because transcibe means to copy but when I looked at the answer key it was the second answer. This is my first year teaching biology could someone please clarify!! Thanks!!

Tina Alcain Tina Alcain 3305 Points

We are almost done with DNA and RNA and the activity that the students really enjoyed was making a double helix from pipe cleaners and beads. They could actually see how the double helix was formed and it made it easier for them to understand the concept of the Base Pair rule and how only certain bases bonded to others. I think it was a fast, easy way for my kids to grasp this concept. Now I just have to find another activity to do with transcription and translation that will make it easier for them to "see" these concepts...

Loren Nomura Loren Nomura 4055 Points

Well, last week I came back from the Indianapolis NSTA conference and it was great. We took away a lot of lesson plan ideas and things that we could adapt for our own students based upon their ability level. One of the workshops was on building a DNA model and DNA extraction. The DNA extraction is a really inexpensive way for students to get DNA out of a fruit like a strawberry or banana. You could use a few basic supplies you could get from Walmart, like salt and soap for example. There's many sites that explain the DNA extraction experiment. One thing that I would point out that I took away from the NSTA conference is that one vendor in particular, Carolina Biological Supplies Company, stood out as having really good classroom resources. Maybe if you can convince your school to at least consider them and browse their catalog, it might be worth a shot. They sell DNA model kits that can student can put together, and then you can have the entire class connect their individual DNA base pairs they set up so that students can see the shape of the DNA molecule and also just how long it can be. Pretty good way to get the students moving and help them visualize the DNA molecule. I know previously I posted a link to a worksheet where students could make their own DNA molecule using paper, which would be good if you don't want to spend virtually any money at all. The DNA molecule kits from Carolina though are probably a long term solution and may increase student engagement as well. They also have supplies for people who are interested in doing dissections and planting.

Patty McGinnis Patricia McGinnis 25635 Points

I've done the strawberry extraction lab before; it works great, is inexpensive, and the DNA is easy to see (although a bit disappointing since it basically looks like slime!).

Ruth Hutson Ruth Hutson 64765 Points

Hi Patty,

We always referred to the slime as 'pig snot.' EWWW.

Have you considered comparing the 'amount' of DNA from several different variety of strawberries? It provides an excellent study of ploidy. Strawberry genes discusses the degrees of ploidy among these variety. It also gives some ideas for classroom activities.

Tina Alcain Tina Alcain 3305 Points

Yes the DNA did look a lot like snot!! But the students did enjoy the short activity and I hope it made it easier for them to understand the concept of DNA and how all living organisms possess it.

Gerry Clarin Gerry Clarin 2125 Points

We just finished a DNA extraction Lab and we were able to take some of the DNA slime and dye it with methyl blue stain to see the strands under the microscope. Most DNA extraction labs you have to use a blender. If you don't have a blender you can use Wheat Germ and you don't have to blend it.

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92316 Points

Perhaps you might give this a look for your unit next year. I just discovered it while perusing other educational sites related to game-based learning:
{My mission failed :-( - good thing our students have better game-playing skills!}

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

Adding to Carolyn's post above I have found several excellent sites with 3D animations and other interactive resources Look to the right for a link to 3D animations Cell biology animations

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers