Genes and DNA Unit Lesson Sequence

Days 1 and 2: DNA Structure

A CSI mystery is introduced that needs DNA fingerprinting to solve. This is one reason DNA is important in our lives, but what is it? What is its functional role? Now that we have grabbed student attention we can begin the study of DNA. First we look at the structure of DNA. Students use edible models to create a DNA structure.
Who Committed the Crime? DNA Solves the Mystery Lesson Plan

Day 3: DNA Replication

Cell division, which the students have learned about in a previous unit on cells, is necessary for organisms to sustain life. A key step in the process of cell division is the copying of the DNA through the process of DNA replication. This lesson describes the replication of DNA using the edible DNA models that the students built in Days 1 and 2, and explores the relationship between the structure of DNA and the process of replication.
DNA Replication Long Form Lesson Plan

Day 4: RNA Structure

This lesson uses the structure of DNA, which the students learned in Days 1 and 2 using edible models, as the basis for learning about the structure of RNA using edible models. The students learn the difference between DNA and RNA structure before building the edible model. The structure of RNA is then connected to its structure, as the students learn about three important types of RNA molecules, mRNA, tRNA, and rRNA.
RNA Structure and Function Short-Form Lesson Plan

Days 5, 6, 7: Transciption and Translation

Cell division also requires the production of new structures made out of proteins from the genetic code stored in DNA. This lesson uses both the structure of DNA, which the students learned in Days 1 and 2, and the structure of RNA, which the students learned in Day 4, as the basis for learning about the transcription and translation of DNA to yield protein. The students model the processes of transcription and translation using the edible model of DNA that they build on Days 1 and 2.
Transcription and Translation Lesson Plan
Transcription and Translation Interactive Game

Day 8: Mutation

Changes in the genetic sequence, known as mutations, can result in changes in the protein sequence. This lesson builds on the students understanding of DNA structure to explain the nature of genetic mutation. Applying their understanding of transcription and translation from Days 5, 6, and 7, the students do an activity that helps them explore the consequences of genetic change at the level of the protein sequence. In addition to learning about the causes of mutations, students explore the health and reproductive consequences of mutations.
Mutation Short-Form Lesson Plan

Days 9 and 10: Connecting DNA to Disease

In this inquiry activity, students apply an authentic bioinformatics tool, BLAST, to the problem of identifying a genetic sequence found in a diseased tissue by comparing it to a database of known DNA sequence. This lesson draws on the students understanding of DNA structure (Days 1 and 2) and mutation (Day 8), specifically, how genetic sequences can be mapped to a disease. During the lesson students get an authentic experience of biomedical research, as well as an understanding of large biological sequence databases and the tools, such as BLAST, used to mine them.
Connecting DNA to Disease Using BLAST Lesson Plan

Days 11 and 12: DNA Fingerprinting

DNA fingerprinting is a technique used to identify individuals based on their genetic signature. It is used extensively in forensics to solve crimes. In this activity, students learn about restriction enzymes and gel electrophoresis and how they are applied to find a person's genetic signature, referred to as their DNA fingerprint. The activity only requires that the students understand DNA structure, which was described on Days 1 and 2. It is used to put some closure on the unit, since DNA fingerprinting was introduced on Days 1 and 2 as one of the major applications of DNA, and was given as a motivation for students to be interested in the unit.
DNA Fingerprinting Lesson Plan

Day 13: Review

Students review for the unit test by playing two games. Students play Pictionary in which the major representations of the unit, such as transcription and mutation, are the possible subjects. Students also play Hollywood Squares using a hyper-linked Powerpoint game designed by the teacher.
Review Short-Form Lesson

Day 14: Summative Assessment

The students take a multiple choice test covering the material from the entire unit, including the laboratories.
Genes and DNA Summative Assessment Lesson Plan


Quist and Holoweski - Genes and DNA Unit Design
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