Anna S. Student Exploration Building DNA PDF free download

Name: Anna Singh Date: 28/04

Student Exploration: Building DNA

Vocabulary: double helix, DNA, enzyme, mutation, nitrogenous base, nucleoside, nucleotide, replication

Prior Knowledge Questions (Do these BEFORE using the Gizmo.)

DNA is an incredible molecule that forms the basis of life on Earth. DNA molecules contain instructions for building every living organism on Earth, from the tiniest bacterium to a massive blue whale. DNA also has the ability to replicate, or make copies of itself. This allows living things to grow and reproduce.

Anna S. Student Exploration Building DNA PDF free download
Anna S. Student Exploration Building DNA PDF free download

  • Look at the DNA molecule shown at right. What does it look like?

A double helix strand, and a spiral staircase.

This shape is called a double helix.

  • Based on this picture, how do you think a DNA molecule makes a copy of itself? (Hint: Look at the bottom two “rungs” of the ladder.)

The DNA strands separated the enzyme called DNA polymerase which copies each strand using the base-pairing rule.

Gizmo Warm-up The Building DNA Gizmo™ allows you to construct a DNA molecule and go through the process of DNA replication. Examine the components that make up a DNA molecule.

  • What are the two DNA components shown in the Gizmo?

Nucleosides and Phosphates

  • A nucleoside has two parts: a pentagonal sugar (deoxyribose) and a nitrogenous base (in color). When a nucleoside is joined to a phosphate, it is called a nucleotide.

How many different nitrogenous bases do you see? Four different nitrogenous bases

Note: The names of these nitrogenous bases are adenine (red), cytosine (yellow), guanine (blue), and thymine (green).

“Daughter DNA molecules”

Activity A:

Build a DNA molecule

Get the Gizmo ready:

If necessary, click Reset to start the building


Question: What is the structure of DNA?

  • Build : Follow the steps given in the Gizmo to construct a molecule of DNA. (Note: For simplicity, this DNA molecule is shown in two dimensions, without the twist.)

Stop when the hint reads: “The DNA molecule is complete.” In the spaces at right, list the sequence of nitrogenous bases on the left-hand side of the DNA molecule and the right-hand side.

  • Take a picture : Click the camera ( ) at upper right to take a snapshot of your DNA molecule. Open a blank word-processing document, and select paste. Label this image “Original DNA molecule.”

Left side Right side









  • Explain : Describe the structure of the DNA molecule you made.

A. What makes up the sides of the DNA molecule? Phosphates

B. What makes up the “rungs” of the DNA molecule? Nucleosides

  • Fill in : Write the name of the nitrogenous base that joins to each of the bases below:

Adenine (A) joins to Thymine (T) Thymine (T) joins to Adenine (A)

Activity B:

DNA replication

Get the Gizmo ready:

Be sure the hint reads: “The DNA molecule is complete.”

If not, click Reset and build a new DNA molecule.

Question: How does DNA make a copy of itself?

  • Observe : An enzyme is a protein that facilitates certain cell processes. Click Release enzyme to release DNA helicase. What does this enzyme do to the DNA molecule?

It splits up the bases from their pairs

  • Observe : Click Release enzyme to release DNA polymerase.

A. Notice that two groups of Nucleotides appear on the right. What are the three parts

of a nucleotide? Ribose sugar, a phosphate molecule, and one of four nitrogenous

bases: adenine, guanine, cytosine or uracil.

B. Drag one of the nucleotides to a corresponding nitrogenous base on one of the two

strands. What is the role of DNA polymerase in this process? The main function of

DNA polymerase is to make DNA from nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA.

  • Build : Complete the two molecules of DNA by dragging nucleotides to their corresponding locations. When you have finished, compare the two completed daughter DNA molecules.

What do you notice about the two molecules? They both shows the DNA molecule strand

  • Take a picture : Click the camera to take a snapshot of the DNA molecules, and paste the image into your document. Label this image “Daughter DNA molecules.”

How do these molecules compare to the original? It shows the DNA molecule showing a complete DNA molecules for the daughter cell

“Daughter DNA molecules”

  • Think and discuss : Why is DNA replication such an important process? because so many molecules are involved in the process.
  • Extend your thinking : Sometimes errors called mutations occur during DNA replication. What are some of the possible consequences of mutations?

A mutation is a permanent change in the sequence of DNA. In order for an observable effect, mutations must occur in gene exons or regulatory elements.

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