Home School Science DNA - For Ages Two and Up!

by Carrie
(Lake Orion, MI, USA)

Pipe-cleaner and drinking straw DNA!

Pipe-cleaner and drinking straw DNA!

What do pipe-cleaners and drinking straws have to do with home school science? Here's a fun hands-on idea to help your younger children learn about DNA.


I have a particularly precocious not-quite six year old, who wanted me to explain to her what DNA was.

After spending about 45 minutes to an hour trying to explain it without backing into the entire lesson on cellular structures and functions, I finally remembered that the wiggle worm in my kitchen was a kinesthetic learner, and this reading aloud from a science textbook was boring her to the hilt.

SO...

One package of pipe-cleaners, and one package of drinking straws (with four colours per box) and a brief explanation later, here's what we came up with...

I also printed the DNA colouring worksheets available from The Biology Corner (http://www.biologycorner.com/worksheets.php) and used those with this rather abbreviated description:

DNA is what makes us the same, and different. It is a blueprint of sorts, that determines our species, our hair and eye colour, and other physical traits.

We *briefly* touched on how DNA is made up of a pattern of four parts that are always in pairs- A&T, G&C. I had her colour the worksheet, and then we set about making our own double helices.

To make your own DNA, you'll need:

3 full pipe-cleaners for each helix
1 straw in each colour

Cut one of the three pipe-cleaners into four equal pieces (this will be the rungs for the ladder, and hold the A,T,G & C.

Cut the straws like this /\ at one end, and flat at the other into pieces about 1 inch long. When you cut the straws like this, you can make the opposite \/ by just rotating the straw- in this way you can match a female/male end of the matched pair on the ladder.

See the picture above. Enjoy!

Great idea, Carrie... thanks!

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