4. DNA Models - Sources and Standards

This activity was adapted from a DNA model designed by Lori Lambertson of the Exploratorium Teacher Institute.

For additional background materials, see:

  • Wikipedia article on DNA.
  • Read a copy of Watson and Cricks original 1953 article.
  • For the best online DNA resource I’ve seen, go to DNA Interactive. You will find interviews with scientists, gorgeous computer animations, lesson plans and fabulous web activities.
  • The classic book, The Double Helix: a personal account of the discovery of the structure of DNA by James Watson.
  • An alternative view of the role played by Rosalind Franklin, Rosalind Franklin and DNA by Anne Sayre.

Grade 7
Cell Biology
1. All living organisms are composed of cells, from just one to many trillions, whose details usually are visible only through a microscope. As a basis for understanding this concept:
c.     Students know the nucleus is the repository for genetic information in plant and animal cells.

2. A typical cell of any organism contains genetic instructions that specify its traits. Those traits may be modified by environmental influences. As a basis for understanding this concept:
e.    Students know DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the genetic material of living organisms and is located in the chromosomes of each cell.

Grade 8
Chemistry of Living Systems (Life Sciences)
6. Principles of chemistry underlie the functioning of biological systems. As a basis for understanding this concept:
c.     Students know that living organisms have many different kinds of molecules, including small ones, such as water and salt, and very large ones, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and DNA.

Grades 9-12
5. The genetic composition of cells can be altered by incorporation of exogenous DNA into the cells. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students know the general structures and functions of DNA, RNA, and protein.
b. Students know how to apply base-pairing rules to explain precise copying of DNA during semiconservative replication and transcription of information from DNA into mRNA.