A fun alternative to a standard lesson about the structure of DNA is to use different types of candy to represent the different components of the DNA molecule. This model allows students with VI to appreciate the double-helix structure of DNA and base pairs A-T and G-C.
The two strands can be made using long candy ‘ropes’ – the longer the better! Then use four different types of candy to represent the four different bases. They will need two of each type of candy. Students will also need four wooden sticks with sharp pointy ends.
Each student will need:
Provide the model ingredients to students so they can assemble themselves.
The base rules can be taught using the four different types of candy – each type of candy is assigned one of the four bases A, C, G, and T. The binding forces are shown using wooden sticks. The model is made first flat on the desk (put clean paper down on the desk first), then students can twist it to learn the double helix shape in 3D. This should then be used with a 2D diagram (tactile if required) to allow students to make the link between the 3D model and the hard-to-interpret 2D diagram representation of the structure.
HS-LS1-1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
By Will Stark, who is the Head of Science at the New College Worcester in the UK. He has a degree in Physics and is a certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired.
Return to Accessible Science main page.