Kamis, 01 Desember 2011

DNA Mutation Activities for School

Making DNA activities fun provides motivation.

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DNA is genetic material that influences your physiology and the way you look. A mutation is a permanent change in the DNA sequence of a gene. Reproductive mutations are passed on to offspring, while nonreproductive mutations are not. Not all gene mutations produce negative effects. For example, some gene mutations cause rare eye colors, such as violet. DNA mutation activities help students understand how mutations occur and what effects they produce.

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Proteins are composed of amino acids, which contain three nucleotides that make up a DNA sequence. In science, letters represent amino acids. For example, the letter C represents the amino acid cysteine, and the DNA sequence is TGC TGT. Changing the sequence in any way causes a mutation.


Identifying the DNA mutations that cause certain characteristics is an engaging activity for students. Divide your students into groups of four. Write down mutation characteristics such as polydactyly, a DNA mutation that causes a person to have six or more fingers on each hand. Shuffle the mutations and place them in a bag, then have a leader from each group pull a mutation from the bag. Set your timer and give the students 90 seconds to write the proper DNA sequence for their specific mutation.

Connect the Mutation

Matching activities are a good way for students to remember DNA mutation sequences. Write a list of 10 DNA mutations on the chalk board, then write a list of sequences across from it. Divide the students into groups of three and have each student draw a line from the DNA mutation to the corresponding sequence. It helps to use different colored chalk for each group. The first group to match the most sequences wins.

Bag of Mutations

A bag of mutations activity is fun and interactive. Pick four DNA mutations such as extremely long fingernails. Use items to correspond with each mutation. For example, for the fingernail mutation, you can use costume fingernails that slide onto the front of the fingertips. Divide your class into four groups and have each group grab a mutation from the bag. Have one group display their mutations while the other groups try to determine the name and sequence of the mutation. The first group to answer correctly wins.

Reverse Mutation

Assign each student a letter to represent an amino acid. Write a list of corresponding mutations on the board. Instruct students to write the corresponding amino acid that matches their letter and correct the sequence to remove the mutation. A student with the letter C for cysteine would correct a mutation to get the appropriate DNA sequence of TGC TGT.

ReferencesLearning about DNA, Grades 4 to 8; Debbie RouthLessonPlansInc.com: DNA & RNA Lesson PlansGenomicsEducation.ca: Prescribed Learning Outcomes Grade 10 Science - Life Science - GeneticsPhoto Credit Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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