• Make an Origami DNA model at DNAi website.  Or download the PDF files for Instructions and Template.
  • Take the “Tour of the Basics” at the Genetic Science Learning Center.
  • With this Activity, simulate “RNA Transcription” and get the Templates for RNA and DNA nucleotides.  These are suggestions for the order of DNA bases.  They can be cut out and one given to each group.  To have students go further, have them use their mRNA models to do the “RNA Translation” Activity.
  • “Have Your DNA and Eat It Too” (pdf) has students build a model from edible materials.
  • In “Reading DNA” (pdf) students use edible models of the DNA molecule to transcribe an mRNA sequence, then translate it into a protein. 
  • With this “Gene Mutation” (doc) Activity, demonstrate the difference between frameshift and point mutations. 
  • “DNA and Genes” Crossword Puzzle and solution. Or Matt H. contributed this cleaner pdf version of the crossword.
  • DNA and Genes” Wordsearch and solution.
  • This Codon Bingo” is a simple exercise to help students learn how to use a codon table to translate mRNA into its associated amino acids and includes a blank bingo card.
  • DNA” crossword puzzle  and answers.
  •  In “How Does DNA Determine the Traits of an Organism?,” students use a DNA sequence of an imaginary organism called a “Snork” to determine it’s traits and then draw the organism.
  • Do the “From Gene to Protein” (pdf) WebQuest activity from the Genetic Science Learning Center.
  • Try the PBS “DNA Workshop Activity” for the simulation of DNA replication and protein synthesis.
  • Have students watch the movie, Race for the Double Helix, (if you don’t have it, Amazon.com sells it) and use these notes (doc), discussion questions (doc), and quiz (doc) from Patricia Meyers, Science Department Chair, Twin Valley High School, Elverson, PA.
  • Simulate the way mutations occur with this “DNA Chain Letter” activity.
  • Play  “The Waltz of the Ribosomes” song performed by Gregorio del Laboratorio.  (You can save the song by right-clicking on the link and selecting “Save Target As.”)
  • This “Say it with DNA: Protein synthesis tutorial” includes worksheets, a DNA message-maker and more.
  • “The Cell Will Survive” (ppt) is a clever PowerPoint about protein synthesis.  It has the music to the song “I Will Survive” in the background with the words that Annette M. Parrott, the creator of the PowerPoint, wrote.  Students can sing along as the presentation plays.  (You may need to download the presentation and save it on your own computer for the music to play.)
  • Knit “Dr. Montville’s Double Helix Seaman Scarf” using his directions.  A picture is included.
  • Or make a “Genome Quilt” with these instructions.
  •  Make “Pasta DNA Models” (doc), an activity from Michael Gatton of the NSTA Listserve.
  • Show NOVA’s “Cracking the Code of Life” video and have students answer the questions on this worksheet (doc)
  •  The “Do It Yourself DNA Kit” allows students to ultimately translate a DNA code-message by synthesizing a “protein” (amino acid sequence) in readable English, and encourages students to create and decipher new messages written in DNA language.
  • Mutations: Changing the Genetic Code” requires Java 1.5 and is an interactive model.  In this activity students can edit a DNA nucleotide sequence and observe how it will affect the sequence of amino acids in the protein and the shape of the resulting protein.
  • “Codon Analogy” (pdf) with key (pdf) and “DNA Sentences” (pdf) are both activities where words or letters are substituted for amino acids to make sentences and demonstrate how the DNA code works.
  •  Rena Drezner of the NSTA Listserve contributed this “Biotechnolgy: a Multimedia Journey” Project (doc) that includes this rubric (doc).
  • Michael Wright of the NSTA Listserve contributed the “DNA Online” (doc) worksheet to go along with the “DNA Interactive” website.
  • “Connect the Dots . . . DNA to DISEASE” (doc) has students transcribe and translate a given sequence of DNA and perform a BLAST search against a database of known proteins to determine which protein their sequence encodes. The goal is to show students that genes encode proteins, which in turn can cause disease if mutated or functioning improperly.
  • Kathy Hallett of the NSTA Listserve contributed this “National Geographic: the Genographic Project” (doc) to go along with National Geographic’s Genographic Project.
  • In Tom Wanamaker of the NSTA Listserve’s “Restriction Enzymes: DNA Scissors” (doc) activity, students work to break up an ivory poaching ring. The ivory contains small, incomplete quantities of DNA that you can use to test whether or not this seller is telling the truth.
  • Kristie Akl provided “The Race to Discover DNA” (ppt) PowerPoint presentation with this accompanying worksheet.


  • Try the “Extracting DNA from Strawberries” Lab with Student Worksheet and Instructions (pdf) for Lab preparation or use this (pdf) file that includes student worksheets and instructions.
  • Simulate DNA Profiling with this “Crime Scene Investigation” Lab.  These teacher notes will help you set the lab up.
  • Try the “Mystery Yeast Mutation” (pdf) lab.
  • “Case of the Crown Jewels” (pdf) is a classroom activity that allows students to explore how the unique sequence of bases in DNA can be used to identify individuals.  It includes a pre-lab activity, a laboratory preparation guide, extension activities, and a post-lab activity.
  • “The Watson-Crick Model of DNA Structure” (pdf) is a unit with 5 inquiary type lab activities from NSTA.
  • Try this “Human Cheek Cell DNA Extraction” (pdf) lab from Michael Gatton.
  • Or try this “Protein Synthesis” (pdf) lab, also from Michael Gatton.


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