DNA Models

Lecturer with DNA model.
Peter Dazeley/ Photographer's Choice/ Getty Images

Constructing DNA models is a great way to learn about DNA structure, function, and replication. DNA models are representations of the structure of DNA. These representations can be physical models created from almost any type of material or they can be computer generated models.

DNA Models: Background Information

DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. It is housed within the nucleus of our cells and contains the genetic information for the reproduction of life.

The structure of DNA was discovered by James Watson and Francis Crick in the 1950's.

DNA is a type of macromolecule known as a nucleic acid. It is shaped like a twisted double helix and is composed of long strands of alternating sugars and phosphate groups, as well as nitrogenous bases (adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine). DNA controls cellular activity by coding for the production of enzymes and proteins. The information in DNA is not directly converted into proteins, but must first be copied into RNA in a process called transcription.​

DNA Model Ideas

DNA models can be constructed from almost anything including candy, paper, and even jewelry. An important thing to remember when constructing your model is to identify the components you will use to represent the nucleotide bases, sugar molecule, and phosphate molecule. When connecting the nucleotide base pairs be sure to connect the ones that pair naturally in DNA.

For example, adenine pairs with thymine and cytosine pairs with guanine. Here are some excellent activities for constructing DNA models:

DNA Models: Science Projects

For those interested in using DNA models for science fair projects, remember that simply constructing a model is not an experiment.

Models may be used, however, to enhance your project. For additional information on science fair projects, visit the Science Fair Projects Help page.