Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Homeschool Science: 10 DIY DNA Models, Plus 2 More!

Chapter 7 of the CK-12 Biology textbook covers DNA and RNA. It's a big concept to understand, these building blocks of our selves, so we're taking plenty of time to explore.

After reading the section in the chapter specifically on DNA and RNA, and exploring several additional resources, I challenged the children to make their own DNA models.

Actually, I first beat my head against the wall for a goooood long while during my lesson planning, trying to find a DNA model tutorial that both children would enjoy making, before realizing that not only was I doing work that they were perfectly capable of doing on their own, but also that I was depriving them of valuable research and problem-solving and creative experiences by doing so.

Instead, I gave the children this model DNA assignment from DIY. Happily, it encapsulates exactly what I'd wanted them to do! The assignment was on their work plans for Wednesday, with space for them to continue working on it on Thursday and Friday. This gave us some time to hit up the grocery store for the supplies that Syd decided she needed to make the double helix model of her dreams:


Yes, that's Twizzlers and gummies. The girl likes what she likes!

Will's DNA model was made with supplies on hand, but I was pleased to see that she had clearly spent time working out a design, constructing it, and making sure the details were accurate:


I doubt that I could have gotten that level of buy-in on a model that I assigned specifically.

While I loved the DNA models that the kids made, and they learned from them what I wanted them to, I'm pretty sure that I could busy myself quite happily for years doing nothing but making DNA models from tutorials found on the internet. The things that kids come up with these days! The elaborate, cleverly-designed, lovingly-constructed projects! Here are some of my favorites, if you, too, would like to make a DNA model in your free time:
  1. Tape and straws. I really like this model, especially how easy it is to manipulate, although I shudder at the purchase of so many drinking straws.
  2. Cut-and-paste. This is one of the most scientifically-accurate models, and one of the most accessible in terms of materials.
  3. Beaded pendant. I SUPER want to make this for myself.
  4. Knitted. If I knew how to knit, I would make this immediately. I need to learn how to knit!
  5. Toothpicks, Styrofoam balls, and pipe cleaners. I LOATHE Styrofoam, but this is a larger model that would display well.
  6. Recycled cans. This is a brilliant idea, and would be perfect for a large group or co-op to build together.
  7. Origami. This model is easier than it looks, thanks to a printable template.
  8. Pony beads. This is another kid-friendly model that would make a great craft project simply on its own.
  9. LEGO mosaic. There isn't a tutorial here, but it wouldn't be too hard to figure out.
  10. LEGOs. There are several pics of LEGO DNA models floating around the internet, but here's an actual step-by-step, including exactly the LEGO pieces that you need.

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