Comic Strip - Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

  1. Review the idea of transcription and translation. As you do, write down key concepts (see table below) in a column on the side of the board.

    Protein synthesis key concepts:
    • DNA is located in the nucleus of the cell.
    • The sequence of DNA nucleotides forms the genetic code.
    • RNA polymerase separates the 2 strands of DNA and then matches an RNA nucleotide to each DNA nucleotide.
    • This chain of RNA nucleotides forms a molecule of messenger RNA.
    • The messenger RNA leaves the nucleus.
    • A ribosome assembles around the messenger RNA
    • The ribosome reads the sequence of codons in the messenger RNA and matches a transfer RNA molecule to each codon.
    • The ribosome assembles the amino acids brought by the transfer RNA into a chain.
    • The finished chain of amino acids is a protein.

  2. Once you have elicited the major steps of transcription/translation, cross out or underline the vocabulary words. For example:
    • DNA is located in the nucleus of the cell.”
    • “The sequence of DNA nucleotides forms the genetic code.”
  3. Ask students to be creative and brainstorm other words or ideas that might fit in the place of the crossed out/underlined words. For example, instead of “DNA is located in the nucleus of the cell” you might say
    • The mayor is located in the town hall of the city.”
    • A beautiful princess is located in the highest tower of the castle.”
    • The Pirate King is located on his pirate ship in the middle of the Black Sea.”
  4. Use this brainstorming strategy for perhaps 2 or 3 key concepts then begin tying the ideas together to create a non-science storyline that parallels the protein synthesis process. Perhaps the princess is sending a secret message to her knight in shining armor to build a device to rescue her. Or maybe the Pirate King is sending secret orders to his henchmen on land to build a weapon.
  5. Once students get the idea, give them an overview of the project: Create a comic strip that is an analogy for the protein synthesis process. Below each panel of the comic strip, write down the translation of your story in science speak (the key concepts listed above). Begin by outlining the entire story side by side with the science speak key concepts. Only after the story is outlined should you begin illustrating.