Edible DNA model

By Will Stark on Feb 06, 2017

A fun alternative to a standard lesson about the structure of DNA is to use different types of candy to represent the different components of the DNA molecule. This model allows students with VI to appreciate the double-helix structure of DNA and base pairs A-T and G-C.

Preparation:

Provide the model ingredients to students so they can assemble themselves.

Materials

The two strands can be made using long candy ‘ropes’ – the longer the better! Then use four different types of candy to represent the four different bases. They will need two of each type of candy. Students will also need four wooden sticks with sharp pointy ends.

Each student will need:

  • 2 strands of long rope candy
  • 2 of each type of 4 different types of candy
  • 3 wooden sticks with sharp pointy ends

Procedure

The base rules can be taught using the four different types of candy – each type of candy is assigned one of the four bases A, C, G, and T. The binding forces are shown using wooden sticks. The model is made first flat on the desk (put clean paper down on the desk first), then students can twist it to learn the double helix shape in 3D. This should then be used with a 2D diagram (tactile if required) to allow students to make the link between the 3D model and the hard-to-interpret 2D diagram representation of the structure.

Collage of edible DNA model

 

NGSS Standards:

HS-LS1-1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

HS-LS1-1.    Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.

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