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Biology Lesson Plan: Chapter 1 Projects in DNA and Cell Models

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 1/17/2012

This lesson plan will serve as a guide for projects for the first chapter in biology. DNA and cell models are the basis here for interactive and educational lessons in this chapter. Students will enjoy these instructive activities and review ideas which coincide very well with the material.

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    DNA Model Projects: Make a Model from Candy

    One fun and edible DNA model project your students will enjoy is building a DNA model out of candy.You will need:

    • Two strands of rope candy.
    • Nine marshmallows of four different colors for 26 total marshmallows.
    • 18 toothpicks.

    This project can be done as a class or in small groups.

    1. Lay the items out in paper plates accordingly.
    2. Choose which four colors will correspond to Adenine, Thymine, Guanine, and Cytosine.
    3. Students can then push a toothpick through both marshmallows in each pair, and then stick the toothpick in between the two candy ropes
    4. Once they do this they can carefully twist the candy ropes to complete the DNA ladder.

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    Animal Cell Model Project: Building a Candy Model

    You can also have your students build an animal cell model project from candy (perhaps on a separate day).You will need the following:

    • gelatin (cytoplasm)
    • two different-colored fruit roll ups (nucleus)
    • a round cake pan
    • 6 gumballs (centrosomes)
    • 4 gummy hamburgers (or layered candy; Golgi)
    • 6 chocolate candies (mitochondria)
    • 20-30 candy dots (ribosomes)
    • 6 sugar coated worms (rough ER)
    • 6 gummy worms (smooth ER)
    • 4 small jaw breakers (vacuole).

    Here are the instructions:

    1. Pour the gelatin into the cake pan and let it cool in the fridge for a few minutes.
    2. Cut one circle from the fruit roll up and another smaller piece from the other color.
    3. Place the fruit roll ups, with the larger one on the bottom, on the gelatin which is poured into the cake pan.
    4. Then allow students to arrange the items in the cell.
    5. You can also have students create a plant cell from appropriate materials. Have your students describe their experience in some way to ensure they are comfortable with the various organelles and what they do.

    These activities are fun ways to supplement what students are learning. Also, they should find their knowledge of the material much more accessible by being able to reproduce the structure of a cell or DNA. Use these activities and more to supplement the students' learning experience.

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    Game Review

    The following activity is a fun and fast-paced way for students to review the material from the chapter.

    Divide a writing surface into three sections: exploring life on many levels (sub-categorize into cells and DNA, and organization and interaction); evolution, unity, and diversity (sub-categorize into diversity and unity, and evolution); and the process of science (sub-categorize into scientific method, and science and technology).

    Write easy, medium and hard questions. You don't necessarily need to make the questions extremely tough; you could make the harder questions span more ideas and follow more of an overarching conceptual route. Keep an outline with you to ask questions, if you need additional ideas if time permits. The questions should cover both main parts and supplementary questions and ideas derived from the text.

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    Scoring

    Implementing a scoring system will allow students to get more involved. It can be a friendly, yet competitive way to review the chapter.

    Divide the classroom into an appropriate number of teams to keep score. You can have students choose a varying level of questions to score points: one point for easy questions, two points for medium questions, and three points for harder questions.

    You could also allow other teams to "steal" questions. If a team doesn't know the answer to the question, other teams could have a chance. If nobody knows the question, it gives you a good opportunity to review the content of the chapter.

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    Content

    In the first major category, focus 25% on cells, 25% on DNA, and 50% on organization and interaction. Cells should cover theory, history, types, structure, and integration with DNA. DNA should cover structure, inheritance, and the genome. Organization and interaction should cover biological tiers, reductionism, structure-function, ecosystems, energy conversion, and regulatory mechanisms.

    In the second major category, focus half on diversity and unity and half on evolution. Diversity and unity should cover species, domains, and kingdoms. Evolution should cover history, diversity, natural selection, and descent with modification.

    In the third major category, focus 75% on the scientific method and 25% on science and technology. The scientific method should cover inductive reasoning, the steps of the method, control and experiment groups, and theories. Science and technology should cover conceptual aspects.

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