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A Tour Through DNA

Kathy Paris
[email protected]
This classroom activity, created by Kathy Paris/Access Excellence Fellow, is in the Access Excellence online forum for biology education. You can access this and additional information by entering the forum through America Online (keyword: excellence) or on the World Wide Web.


You are going to lead others on an imaginary tour through DNA. You will have to be very clear and concise so that the "tourists" will understand what DNA is, how it works and what happens if it is altered. You also want to keep them interested so they will want to continue your tour. You will therefore need to use your creative ideas to design a 3 dimensional Model and a Tour Guide to lead them through the model and the other aspects of DNA.

Due date:


  1. A 3 dimensional (3D) labeled model of DNA made out of any materials you wish. The size can vary, but it must fit on the counter and be light enough to transport easily. To get the highest score on some of the rubrics, you model must be detailed and have working parts. See rubrics for specifics.

  2. To accompany your model, you will design a Tour Guide of DNA. It should be no larger than 12" x 18". It should also be very creative and visual to enhance learning and keep the reader's attention. You are taking the reader on a "Tour" so write it as a guide, not a report. See rubrics for specifics.

  3. A checklist has been provided to make sure you have put in the appropriate details in your model and/or Tour Guide. Check them off as you do them.

  4. A bibliography is also required and can be put on the last page of your Tour Guide. I have books and articles you may use after school or during the student day on Tuesday. See below.

  5. Do not put your name on the model or Tour Guide. Instead, put your period and assigned number in the gradebook (1-7 or 1-19 or . . . ).

  6. Grading is based on the attached content and design rubrics. Three of your peers will use them to grade both your model and Tour Guide. The grading scale:

    180-200 = A
    160-179 = B
    140-159 = C
    120-139 = D

DNA Model -Checklist

A. Structure
  1. Nitrogenous bases/pairing/rungs?__________
  2. Chemical structuring (nucleotide: sugar/phosphate)?__________
  3. Sugar (name)/phosphate sides?__________
  4. Bonding? Where H bonds? Other covalent bonds? Where do bases bond?__________
  5. Helix/double strand?__________
  6. Complementary strand?__________
  7. Antiparallel?__________
  8. 5' end, 3' end?__________
  9. Purines/pyrimidines; PuAG2?__________

B. Replication

  1. DNA Polymerase?__________
  2. Helicases and other enzymes?__________
  3. Semi-conservative replication?__________
  4. Bonding of nucleotides? Bonding between bases?__________

C. How a Protein is Made

  1. How a Protein is Made - Transcription
    1. Defined? Identified in Tour Guide?__________
    2. M-RNA made with DNA template?__________
    3. RNA polymerase? Other enzymes?__________
    4. RNA's-how different from DNA?__________
    5. M-RNA does what? Codon?__________
    6. Puffs?__________
    7. Nucleus/cytoplasm/ribososmes?__________
  2. How a Protein is Made - Translation
    1. Defined? Identified in Tour Guide?__________
    2. T-RNA does what (specifics)?__________
    3. Anticodon and a.a. end?__________
    4. Amino acids/peptide bond/polypeptide/protein?__________
    5. Ribosome, large and small subunits, function of each. P and A sites?__________
    6. Initiation codon/termination codon?__________
    7. Polysomes?__________
    8. Any enzymes involved?__________
    9. 20 different a.a.__________
  3. Altering the Code and the Results
    1. Change a base (point mutation)?__________
    2. Results in a change in a.a. sequence?__________
    3. Change in function of the protein?__________
    4. Frame shift?__________
    5. Frame shift results in a.a. sequence?__________
    6. Relates the mutation to a real world consequence?__________

  4. Miscellaneous
    1. No reports?__________
    2. Visuals? How many?__________
    3. Originality?__________
    4. Assigned number on model and tour guide (no name)?__________
    5. Check over spelling, punctuation and grammar?__________
    6. Is everything neat and organized?__________
    7. Bibliography?__________
    8. Would you be proud to show this project to others?__________

How to Write a Bibliography

  1. Examples of forms for listing books in a bibliography:

    1. Baugh, Albert C, . and C. Frank. A Literacy History of England. ed. Albert C. Baugh. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc. , 1988.

    2. Guberlet, Murial. Explorers of the Sea. New York: The Ronald Press, 1988.

    3. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ , Seaweeds at Ebb Tide. Seattle: The University of Washington Press, 1986.

    4. Powell, J .H. "The War of the Pamphlets," Literacy History of the United States. Vol. I, Robert E. Spiller, et al., eds., New York: Macmillian Co., 1988, pp. 131-145.

      Note "et al" means "and others" ; ed. means editor

  2. When using periodicals (magazines) :

  3. Lamborn, R.L. "Must they be Crazy, Mixed-Up Kids?" The New York Times Magazine. June 26, 1995, pp. 2-4.


    Lamborn, R.L. "Must they be Crazy, Mixed-Up Kids?" The New York Times Magazine. pp. 2-4, June 26, 1995..

  4. "U.S. Delegations to International Conferences: Timber Committee," United States Department of State Bulletin, XXXIII (Sept. 5, 1995), 440.

  5. Winterich, John Tracy. "Kneeside Reminiscences," Saturday Review. XXXII) (July 23, 1995) , 12-13.


    Winterich, John Tracy. "Kneeside Reminiscences," Saturday Review. 38: 12, July 23, 1995. (Volume: Pages)

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