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The perfect recipe: 1 part playdough + 1 part ipad

March 20, 2013

DNA replication is a complicated process and students struggle to learn the process. The students struggle trying to visualize the steps and as a result don’t completely understand the process.

This year, I tried a more hands-on approach using play dough and iPads.

Students came to class on day 1 after watching a video on DNA structure and the steps of DNA replication. See video if you would like:

In groups, students then whiteboarded the steps of replication and came up with acronyms to remember the steps.

My favorite acronym for the process was:

Hot- helicase
Dog- DNA polymerase
Lunch- Ligase
This pneumonic device translates to each enzyme or step of the process.  The hot dog lunch acronym also illustrated what the enzymes do.      

 Helicase breaks apart the DNA just like you would break apart a bun.
DNA polymerase adds nucleotides just like you would add a wiener.
Ligase seals the backbone of the DNA just like you would add your condiments to seal in the wiener.

At the end of the day, students had a pretty good idea of steps but they still needed work in the understanding of what was happening during each step.

Day 2: Bring in the Play doughPlay_dough

The students used the play dough to model the steps they had been learning the previous day.

The students then used iMotionHD on the iPads to take a picture of each step.  This created a stop-motion animation of the process.

Once the students were finished, we used Apple TV to project the finished projects on the screen.  Here each group of students described the steps that were occurring as they happened on the screen.  Other students gave constructive feedback if any steps were missed.

Here is one example of the final project:

The video goes pretty fast but we are able to slow down the amount of frames per second using the actual app.

The feedback from the students was great.  They enjoyed the activity and the results on the replication section of the test were outstanding!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Judith King permalink
    March 25, 2013 2:58 pm

    You can really see how much more sense it all makes when you have a chance to play with it and figure it out. It is not something you will forget easily after making it with play-doh and filming it! I can see why the results from that section of the test were outstanding. Way to go.

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