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Delving into DNA Lesson Plan

This class has a wide range of student abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds. Many of the
students have learning disabilities (i.e. ADHD, reading struggles) as well as behavioral problems.
Most of the students are close friends and in turn, have difficulty staying on task rather than
talking with their peers. We have decided to work in four groups of about four-five students due
to the fact that there are four teachers (SpEd teacher, aide, my CT, and myself) in the classroom
during fourth block. We will be working in these groups during this lesson as well to keep the
students on task and allow for more one-on-one interaction. The day before this lesson, we
discussed DNA replication and protein synthesis.
Objectives: Students will have a deeper understanding of the process of protein synthesis by
learning through hands-on activities with manipulatives, in depth activity sheets, and simulating
the journey of DNA information to protein production.
Engage (10 minutes): Warm-up to discuss about their prior knowledge of DNA as well as hand
out the sandwich bags that contain different colored marshmallows, two twizzlers, and multiple
toothpicks (the exact amount of each to create a DNA strand that has 10 nucleotide pairs)
Explore (25 minutes): With a partner, the students will create a strand of DNA using all of the
materials from the sandwich bag. The teacher will not instruct the students in any way besides
telling them that they should use everything in the bag. This activity will serve as a formative
assessment of the prior knowledge of DNA structure from each student.
Explain (35 minutes): Lecture on history, structure, and function of DNA with Powerpoint.
Teacher should pass out the notes for students to fill in as lecture goes on, those students that
need modified notes will be given them. Students will then create a DNA strand using
pipecleaners by themselves and asked to label the nucleotides, bonds, backbone, etc.they can
use their notes.
Elaborate (20 minutes): Students will complete the activity sheet, DNA Structure Activity
Sheet to further delving into DNA.
DNA: History, Function, Structure
Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid (DNA)
Type of nucleic acid
Ribose Nucleic Acid (RNA) is the other type of nucleic acid
Holds genetic code
genetic instructions to make proteins
Found in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells
Found in the nucleoid region in prokaryotic cells
Background of DNA
From 1866-1953
Gregor Mendel (1866): discovered the inherited traits by discrete units, or
genes, are passed on from the parents
Freidrich Miescher (1868): isolated something new from the nuclei of
eukaryotic cells
This new material would later be called DNA!
Thomas Hunt Morgan (1910): discovered genes are located (linked) on
chromosomes when he was working with fruit flies
Specifically looked at eye color of the flies
Fredrick Griffith (1928): studied the effects of virulent (virus-causing) vs.
nonvirulent bacteria injected into mice
He inserted foreign DNA and changed the protein/trait
Believed that the transforming agent was an inheritance molecule
Oswald Avery, Colin MacLeod, and Maclyn McCarty (1944): reported that
the transforming agent in Griffiths experiment was DNA
Also used Peneumococcus bacteria and test tubes (NOT MICE)
- Edwin Chargaff (1950): discovered the 1:1 ratio of adenine to thymine and
guanine to cytosine
Found in DNA structures of a variety of organisms
Created rules: A = T and C = G
- Maurice Wilkins (1952): photographed DNA using x-ray crystallography
with Rosalind Franklin
Was awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with
Watson and Crick
- Rosalind Franklin (1952): obtained sharp x-ray diffraction photographs of
DNA with Wilkins
Watson and Crick used her data and revealed the helical shape of
She died before Wilkins, Crick, and Watson were awarded the Nobel
Prizeand wasnt given credit for many years for her contributions.
- Alfred Hersey and Martha Chase (1952): confirmed DNA was genetic
Used bacteriophases (viruses)
HYPOTHESIZED that DNA, not protein, is the hereditary material

James Watson and Francis Crick (1953): discovered the double helix
structure of DNA
Solved the three-
dimensional structure of the
DNA molecule
Linus Pauling (1954): proposed a
triple helix structure for DNA
This was later disproved

Structure of DNA
Double helix
Backbone is composed of alternating
sugar (deoxyribose) and a phosphate
- Runs from 5 end to 3 end
Nucleotides bond together to connect the two backbones
1. Through hydrogen bonding
Nucleotides are made up of one sugar molecule, one phosphate molecule, and one
of four nitrogenous bases (adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine)
Nitrogenous bases are split into two groups based on structure
1. Purines: adenine and guanine; have double ring structure
2. Pyrimidines: thymine and cytosine; have single ring
The bases can pair ONLY ONE way: Adenine (A) always pairs with thymine (T)
and cytosine (C) always pair with guanine (G)
Name:___________________________ Date: ______________________ Block____________

Making the DNA Stem Model

Purpose: In this lab, we will model
-Scissors -White pipecleaners (4) -Green pipecleaner (1)
-Red pipecleaners (2) -Pink pipecleaner (1) -Black pipecleaner (1)
-Corn (yellow) pipecleaner (1) -Turquoise (blue) pipecleaner (1)

**Be careful cutting the pipecleanersthere could be sharp edges if not cut properly.**

How to Build:
1. Position your red sides for the phosphate backbone of the DNA. DO NOT CUT THE
2. Cut your apricot and green pipecleaners into four pieces. Connect 8 steps using 4 apricot
and 4 green pieces in any order, EVENLY spaced.
3. Cut your white pipecleaners into four pieces. Overwrap white to secure steps to side and
represent deoxyribose sugar molecules.
4. Cut turquoise and corn pipecleaners into four pieces. Overwrap turquoise (T) on apricot
(A) and corn (C) on green (G). Make the overwrap 1/3 of the step width.
5. Carefully cut black pipecleaner into eight pieces. Overwrap black between G-C and A-T
to represent Hydrogen bonds. Hydrogen bonds are thin!
6. Cut cattycorner phosphate ends to make 3 ends. Leave the 5 ends uncut.

Connecting Concepts:
1. Label your DNA strand with: a) nucleotides, b) phosphate groups, c) 5 and 3 ends, d)
deoxyribose sugar, and e) the bonding that occurs between nitrogenous bases.
2. Why does the overwrap of turquoise onto pink and corn onto green only go 1/3 the width of
the step instead of half way?

3. How do you think DNA is accurately replicated?

4. Draw and color code the structure of your DNA. Make sure to include the twist of phosphate
strands in your drawing.
Name: _____________________________ Date: _________________________ Block:

DNA Structure Activity Sheet

1. DNA is a polymer, which means that is

made up of many repeating single units
(monomers). What are the monomers

2. There are four different variations of these

monomers (four different bases). What are the names
of those bases?




3. The two bases that are purines ( ___________________ ring(s)) are:


4. The two bases that are pyrimidines ( ______________________ ring(s)) are:



5. Chargaffs rule states that the DNA of any species contains equal amounts of

_____ and ________________________________and also equal amounts of

and ___________________________________.

6. Based on this information, scientist could predict that the base


irs with

______________and the base __________________pairs with __________________ in

the formation of the DNA molecule.

This is called complementary base pairing. One strand of DNA is

complementary (opposite yet matching) to the other strand.

7. The bases are paired by ___________________bonds along the center of the molecule.

8. Draw the basic structure of a nucleotide with its three parts.

9. Use the image below to complete the following:

Circle a nucleotide.
Label the sugar and phosphate.
Label the bases that are not already labeled.