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Teaching the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology using Jewelry

    Author: Jennifer M. DeBruyn1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 03 May 2012
    • Supplementary materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • Author’s mailing address: Department of Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science, 2506 E.J. Chapman Drive, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996. Phone: 865- 974-7266. Fax: 865-974-4514. E-mail: jdebruyn@utk.edu.
    • Copyright © 2012 American Society for Microbiology
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2012 vol. 13 no. 1 62-64. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v13i1.356
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    Abstract:

    ”Cracking the Code” is an activity developed to demonstrate the processes of transcription and translation. This hands-on activity helps students understand the relationship between form (base pairing) and function (information storage and transfer) of nucleic acids. In this activity, students go through the processes of transcription and translation of a DNA molecule to create jewelry; a beaded bracelet or necklace is used as a tactile representation of a chain of amino acids. To determine the correct order of “amino acid” beads, students must first decode a strand of DNA using complementary base pairing rules. The decoding is a two-step process that illustrates transcription (the copying of DNA to RNA) and translation (using tRNAs to match the genetic code to the correct amino acid). This teaches the relationship between structure (base pairs) and function (information storage and transfer) in nucleic acids.

Key Concept Ranking

Genetic Code
0.6008809
DNA
0.57474834
Amino Acids
0.5677368
RNA Polymerase
0.56666666
0.6008809

References & Citations

1. Krock L 2005 RNAi explained. Posted 07.01.05 for NOVA ScienceNOW http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/rnai-explained.html
2. National Committee on Science Education Standards 1996 National Science Education Standards The National Academies Press Washington, DC
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v13i1.356
2012-05-03
2017-09-24

Abstract:

”Cracking the Code” is an activity developed to demonstrate the processes of transcription and translation. This hands-on activity helps students understand the relationship between form (base pairing) and function (information storage and transfer) of nucleic acids. In this activity, students go through the processes of transcription and translation of a DNA molecule to create jewelry; a beaded bracelet or necklace is used as a tactile representation of a chain of amino acids. To determine the correct order of “amino acid” beads, students must first decode a strand of DNA using complementary base pairing rules. The decoding is a two-step process that illustrates transcription (the copying of DNA to RNA) and translation (using tRNAs to match the genetic code to the correct amino acid). This teaches the relationship between structure (base pairs) and function (information storage and transfer) in nucleic acids.

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FIGURE 1

Students string “amino acid” beads to make “protein” bracelets: (A) DNA code (purple backbone) is transcribed into mRNA (green) using base pairing rules; (B) RNA is translated to amino acids using tRNA playing cards; (C) the correct amino acids, as determined by the tRNA cards, are strung together to make a bracelet.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2012 vol. 13 no. 1 62-64. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v13i1.356
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