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Beaded DNA Bracelet

 Activities  Terms  Resources





  • Flexible beading wire
  • 1 bag of black beads
  • 1 bag of red beads
  • 1 bag of yellow beads
  • 1 bag of blue beads
  • 1 bag of green beads
  • 1 large bugle beads
  • 1 wire cutter
  • A pair of pliers


Tiime Requirements

  • 30-60 minutes
  • Best a take-home assignment




The purpose of the Beaded DNA Bracelet project is to introduce your young scientists to the concept of genetic material. Although your students may not be familiar with the biochemical basis of DNA, after completing the fourth grade, they should understand the concept of inheritance and patterns among various living species.

By creating this fun DNA bead model, you are introducing young scientists to DNA, the carrier molecule of genetic instructions. Discuss with your students how DNA is found in all living cells and that it is what the egg and sperm carry during fertilization to serve as the instructions for the next generation/offspring.

For older students, you may want to discuss how the base pairs have specific matching requirements (A to T, G to C) and that different combinations of these bases are what create unique characteristics in individuals. At the same time, some of the organization of the bases is preserved so that good traits may be passed on unchanged from generation to generation.


The Science Behind The Beaded DNA Bracelet

In 1869, Friedrich Miescher discovered a substance he called the "nuclein molecule" because he found it in the nucleus of the cell. This molecule was actually deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, the building block of life. Over the next 80 years, scientists worked with this substance to identify its characteristics and determine its function. They learned the it had a backbone made of sugars and phosphates and that it contained specific bases, Adenine (A), Thymine (T), Cytosine (C), and Guanine (G). In 1953, James Watson, Francis Crick, Rosalind Franklin, Maurice Wilkins, and Raymond Gosling identified the structure of DNA as a double helix.

The double helix that you will build in this project contains beads that specify the different components of DNA. The two backbones consist of phosphates and sugars, and they are connected to each other by the pairings between the different bases. The bases in DNA pair only as follows: A to T, C to G. No other chemical combination is possible for the structure of DNA (i.e. A cannot bond to C, G cannot bond to T, etc.).

These bonding rules will be important as your young scientists approach the Beaded DNA Bracelet project. Only specific beads can be used to accurately depict the structure of DNA.





Educational Objectives

The National Academic Press published the National Science Education Standards. The following grade level goals reflect the level of understanding students should have in genetics, inheritance, and DNA structure and function.

5-8 Goals:

Upon completion of the eighth grade, students should be able to understand the following concepts:

  • Reproduction and heredity.
  • Inheritance patterns.
  • Observable traits.
  • Genetic material carries information.
  • Genetic information comes from the egg and sperm and that information is passed down from one generation to the next.
  • Every organism requires a set of instructions for specifying traits (through heredity).
  • Characteristics of organisms can be described in terms of a combination of traits.
  • Different species often share common ancestry.