Sophomores replicate DNA molecules in biology class

In biology teacher Erica Everett’s 10th grade honors class, students created DNA molecules using plastic K’Nex pieces.  After learning about the make-up of the molecules, the sophomores construct the structures with colored pieces that correspond to their respective molecular parts.

Sophomores Aidan Burbridge and David Reid connect the plastic pieces that represent the sugar phosphate backbone of the DNA structure.  The two sides of the ladder are held parallel to each other by the purine and pyrimidine bases that make up the “rungs.” Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Sophomores Aidan Burbridge and David Reid connect the plastic pieces that represent the sugar phosphate backbone of the DNA structure. The two sides of the ladder are held parallel to each other by the purine and pyrimidine bases that make up the “rungs.” Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Sophomore Hannah White pieces together the “rungs” of the ladder-looking DNA structure.  The students make sure that each nucleotide only connects to its counterpart; adenine and thymine bond together, and cytosine and guanine bond together. Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Sophomore Hannah White pieces together the “rungs” of the ladder-looking DNA structure. The students make sure that each nucleotide only connects to its counterpart; adenine and thymine bond together, and cytosine and guanine bond together. Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Sophomores Chris DiFluri and Lydia Parker consult the instruction booklet as they build their DNA structure.  They click the plastic pieces into place to correspond to the diagram shown in the guide. Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Sophomores Chris DiFluri and Lydia Parker consult the instruction booklet as they build their DNA structure. They click the plastic pieces into place to correspond to the diagram shown in the guide. Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Students use the gray plastic connecters to represent the bonds that hold the sides of the ladder-like structure together.  Once the sides are complete, the students will begin to add the “steps” of the ladder. Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Students use the gray plastic connecters to represent the bonds that hold the sides of the ladder-like structure together. Once the sides are complete, the students will begin to add the “steps” of the ladder. Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Student teacher Amanda Maddox explains the activity to sophomores Liam Crossen and Alexei Goldsmith-Solomon.  Maddox has been participating as a teacher helper for one month and frequently assists the students by answering questions and clarifying the topics being taught. Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Student teacher Amanda Maddox explains the activity to sophomores Liam Crossen and Alexei Goldsmith-Solomon. Maddox has been participating as a teacher helper for one month and frequently assists the students by answering questions and clarifying the topics being taught. Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Sophomores Sabrina Pallazola and Sydney Christopher begin to twist the ladder structure onto their central stand to keep it upright.  The students attempt not to break the bonds as they further condense the coil. Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Sophomores Sabrina Pallazola and Sydney Christopher begin to twist the ladder structure onto their central stand to keep it upright. The students attempt not to break the bonds as they further condense the coil. Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
The students are given K’Nex and an instruction guide in order to create their DNA molecules.  Each color represents a different kind nucleotide, namely thymine, guanine, adenine, and cytosine.  Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
The students are given K’Nex and an instruction guide in order to create their DNA molecules. Each color represents a different kind nucleotide, namely thymine, guanine, adenine, and cytosine. Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Sophomores Tess Hosman and Melissa Schuh add a cap to the top of their plastic DNA molecule so that the double helix is preserved.  Once finished, the structure accurately represents the twisted coil shape of DNA.  Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Sophomores Tess Hosman and Melissa Schuh add a cap to the top of their plastic DNA molecule so that the double helix is preserved. Once finished, the structure accurately represents the twisted coil shape of DNA. Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online

Sophomore Hannah White poses with her almost-complete double helix DNA representation.  The “twisted ladder” shape of DNA was discovered by scientists James Watson and Frances Crick in the mid-1950s after studying scientist Rosalind Franklin’s famous DNA picture entitled “Photo 51.” Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Sophomore Hannah White poses with her almost-complete double helix DNA representation. The “twisted ladder” shape of DNA was discovered by scientists James Watson and Frances Crick in the mid-1950s after studying scientist Rosalind Franklin’s famous DNA picture entitled “Photo 51.” Credit: Susie Buck for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online

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