5. Secret Codes

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Example secret DNA codeExample secret DNA code

Kids love secret codes and secret messages. In this activity, kids first discover how codes work by reading and writing secret messages written in Morse code. Next, they make up their own secret codes and trade messages written in their self-created code. Finally, students learn how DNA codes for a “secret” protein message in a two step coding system – the genetic code. Since each of the 20 amino acids has a one letter abbreviation, student can discover the secret protein “messages” encoded in a DNA strand. Several secret DNA messages are provided for students to decode under the assessments section. For homework, students can be challenged to write a secret message to a friend using the genetic code.

Can explain how DNA codes for a sequence of amino acids.
Can begin to explain some of the differences between DNA and RNA.
Can begin to describe the process of transcription and translation.

Messenger RNA
Amino acids
Morse code
Genetic code

Attachment Size
5secret_codes.doc 48.5 KB
codes_handout.doc 43 KB