Lesson Plan 1

Combined two-day lesson on DNA structure


  • Students will be able to describe where to find DNA on Earth and its role in biology
  • Students will be able to identify the key chemical parts of DNA
  • Students will be able to compare and contrast bonds and interactions
  • Students will be able to predict DNA base complementarity

Lesson structure:

Students will be introduced to the basic structural components of DNA. After a quick (5 minute) engagement activity, students will move with their respective tables (groups of 4) around 6 stations with differing content all related to DNA structure. The students will complete the tasks at each station and record the information in their science notebooks. These will be collected at the end of class to motivate the students to remain on task during the lesson.


  • Students will require their science notebooks
  • The written teaching content for each station
  • Two laptops for internet content
  • Pipe cleaners and small beads

Engagement activity:

The students will enter the class and watch a 5 minute introduction to DNA by youtube video (BrainPop) on Day 1. On Day 2, students will be shown a “Crash Course in Chemistry” video (10 minutes).


1.) Words worth knowing

  • Students will copy the definitions for: bond, interaction, nucleotide, sequence, complementarity, sugar, base

2.) Codon jokes

  • Students will be given a sheet with codons whose amino acids spell a joke
  • Using a sheet giving the amino acids related to each codon, the students will match the codons and spell the joke

3.) Simple DNA reading

  • Scientists can create little pigs using DNA (only 2-3 paragraphs)
  • Students will be responsible for 1-2 associated questions

4.) Foldable notes

Tab 1: Where is DNA found

  • DNA is found in every living thing on planet Earth
    • Example: Bacteria, Plants, Humans, Fishes
  • It is a molecule that stores information that makes up all living things
  • DNA is transferred from one generation to another
    • DNA is how you get your parent’s traits

Tab 2: DNA basic structure

  • DNA is a polymer (many repeating units)
  • Each repeating unit is called a nucleotide and is comprised of a sugar along with a special “base
  • Each nucleotide has a complementary nucleotide that it forms a pair with

5.) DNA Vocab crossword

  • Crossword that has a instruction sheet requiring the students to fill in the blank

6.) DNA pipe cleaners

  • Students will be given a long red pipe cleaner with interspersed beads or a long yellow pipe cleaner with interspersed beads. They will also be given 5-6 smaller pipe cleaners with two “complementary” beads. They will tie these smaller pipe cleaners in between the beads of the larger pipe cleaners as shown below. The students will then twist the structure to model DNA.


Students will be asked to write sticky notes for “What I learned, wondering, or have a question about” at the end of each day

Students will also have a long summative homework assignment due on the day after the 2nd lesson.


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