Have Your DNA and Eat It Too

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In this activity, learners build edible models of DNA, while learning basic DNA structure and the rules of base pairing. Learners construct the models out of licorice and colored marshmallows and create labels for the base pairs and backbone. This is an excellent activity to use at the end of a unit on DNA.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Student handout (S1 to S2)
  • Licorice sticks (e.g. Twizzlers)
  • Colored marshmallows (green, pink, yellow, orange)
  • Toothpicks
  • Paperclips
  • Masking tape


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
    • Heredity and Genetics
      • DNA Structure and Function
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Includes assesments for student learning:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Bouwhuis, Andee ; Limson, Melvin ; Malone, Molly ; Mitchell, April ; Stark, Louisa ; Starr, Harmony

Source Collection

  • Teach.Genetics


  • All rights reserved, University of Utah, 2004

Funding Source:

  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Precollege Science Education Initiative for Biomedical Research Institutions Award, 51000176