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How to Build a DNA Model

3.9 based on 8 ratings

Updated on Feb 12, 2014

Grade Level: 5th – 6th; Type: Life Science


Learn the basic structure of a DNA strand, which is the double helix, how genes form together, and the resemblance DNA has to a twisted ladder.

Research Questions:

  • List some ways a DNA strand is similar to a ladder.
  • What are mutations?
  • How are they caused?

DNA is a very complex substance. It contains all the information required to form our whole body, including our eye color, hair color, gender, and much more traits. You will be able to make your very own DNA strand.


  • Black, Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green Construction Paper
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • White Crayon or Color Pencil

Experimental Procedure

  1. Cut out patterns for the model. See image for instructions:

  1. Cut out two black strips that are about 21 inches long. Cut out 10 one inch pieces for C, G, A. and T. They should fit like puzzle pieces. G fitting into C and A fitting into T.
  2. Tape C connected to G and A connected to T.You can glue them also.
  3. Place one black strip higher than the other.
  4. Tape your “genes”(CGs and ATs) to the black strips. Evenly space them.
  5. Now take your white crayon/color pencil and draw your phosphorus bonds like so:

(The phosphorus bonds are the white circles and lines)

  1. The DNA model should look like a ladder with one leg lower/higher than the other.
  2. Try twisting it to see if you could get it to look like a double helix.

Terms/Concepts: Double Helix; Adenine; Thymine; Cytosine; Guanine; Genes; Chromosomes; Mutations


Danielle Abadam is a well-educated high school student. She is currently taking advanced English, Mathematics, and Biology classes. For a few years now, she has been writing articles for various websites and her school newspaper. Danielle always does the experiments herself before she writes about them.