Reading DNA

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In this activity, learners use edible models of the DNA molecule to transcribe an mRNA sequence, and then translate it into a protein. This activity requires learners to have already constructed edible DNA models from the activity "Have Your DNA and Eat It Too" (see related resource).

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 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Student handout (S1 to S5)
  • Tape
  • Masking tape rolls
  • Scissors
  • Black licorice sticks (Twizzlers)
  • Colored marshmallows (pink labeled U, orange, yellow, green)
  • Toothpicks (cut in half)
  • Colored circle cut-outs (red, pink, dark yellow, light yellow, green, blue, and purple)


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
      • Cell Division
    • 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 teamwork and communication skills
  • 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


  • 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