Class: Life Science, 10th Grade
Unit: Genes and DNA
Topic: RNA Structure

Instructional Objectives: Students should be able to:
  1. Identify the similarities and differences between the structure of DNA and RNA molecules.
  2. Explain how the single-stranded nature of RNA allows it to fold into complex structures that can do work.
# Explain the different functions of DNA and RNA, specifically that DNA is a storage molecule, while RNA is used to make protein.
  1. Identify three types of RNA, mRNA, rRNA, and tRNA, and their function.
  2. Explain why RNA is believed to have evolved before DNA.


  1. Use color slides to go over the differences between DNA and RNA.
  2. Give the students an RNA sequence and ask them to build an edible model of it using the supplies from the day before.
  3. Ask the students to make predictions as to how the structure of RNA affects its function. Help them understand that the single-stranded nature of RNA makes it able to compliment itself, making it able to form three-dimensional structures.
  4. Use color slides to show the students various three-dimensional RNA molecules, explaining that RNA molecules can do work.
  5. Use slides to describe the three main types of RNA, mRNA, rRNA, and tRNA.
  6. Ask the students whether they believe DNA or RNA evolved first and why.

  1. Given the structures of DNA and RNA, hypothesize a likely model for RNA transcription.
  2. Textbook, pp. 288-289, "RNA"

Activity Materials Needed
Black licorice sticks, colored marshmallows, (pink marshmallows should have a U on them), and toothpicks.

Resources for Lesson
  1. Slide showing difference between DNA and RNA
  2. Modeling RNA using the edible models handout
  3. Slides showing three-dimensional RNA molecules
  4. Slides describing mRNA, tRNA and rRNA

Genes and DNA Unit Lesson Sequence