Lego DNA Base Pairing

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What You Do:

Teach kids about the genetic code by spelling and decoding codon secret messages with Lego bricks.

What You Need:

LEGO Baseplate

4 colors of 2×2 lego bricks (red, blue, yellow, green)

Codon chart

Lesson:

Introduction
Ask students what they know about DNA. All living things have DNA and, like a Lego instruction manual, it provides the instructions for how we’re built.
Tell the students that DNA only has four letters, and ask how they could write instructions with just four letters.

Activity
Show students the codon chart and walk through an example of how to use it.
Pair up students and have one write a message while the other decodes. It’s helpful to offer a prompt, for example “What’s your favorite color?” or “What’s your pet’s name?”.
For added complexity, you can demonstrate mutations by changing one of their bases. In some cases it may change the word, and in others it won’t.
For further complexity, you can discuss base pairing and have students create a complementary strand with Legos.

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