DNA Modeling Activity

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Using pipe cleaners, straws, and beads, learners explore the building blocks of life by creating their own model of DNA. This activity provides a great introduction to learning about the structure of DNA and the relationships between the four chemical bases — adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Archive.org.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • modeling clay (golf ball size)
  • pipe cleaners
  • plastic straws
  • pipe cleaners cut into 2 inch pieces
  • plastic straws cut into 1.5 inch pieces
  • 10-20 beads (4 different colors)
  • tape


  • Life Sciences
    • Heredity and Genetics
      • DNA Structure and Function

Informal Categories

  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access