Sunday, May 24, 2015

Protein Synthesis in Cells

Lesson/unit plan
contributed by an
eMINTS teacher

published on: 12/16/2009

Subject Area: Communication Arts/Presentations

Grade Range: High School (9-12)

Materials Needed: TEACHER RESOURCES: Do It Yourself DNA Kit: An Introduction to DNA Structure, Replication and Protein Synthesis can be found out Say It With DNA: Protein Synthesis Tutorial can be found at Several short videos can be found here. You must register, but registration is free. (protein synthesis with words) STUDENT RESOURCES: Biology textbook (describes the different types of DNA mutations) (describes the causes of mutations in DNA) (gives examples of specific mutations as well as the frequency of the mutations) (gives more detail about the causes of genetic mutations)

Objective: Students will design a “coded” DNA molecule and decode the DNA molecules of other students.

Essential Question: How can mutations in your DNA structure affect your everyday functioning?

Process Standards:

  • Goal 3.2 develop and apply strategies based on ways others have prevented or solved problems

Content Standards:

  • Science 3. Characteristics and interactions of living organisms

    Time Allowance: About 8 Days

    If there are children with special needs in the classroom, be sure to pair them up with students who can assist them.

    Description: After completing this lesson, students will understand how proteins are synthesized and how mutations can affect how an organism functions. They will also know that the basic structure and function of DNA are fundamental to all biological processes. Students will link genetic diseases to mutations in DNA.

    Classroom Component:

    Management (How will students share technology resources? How will you break up the lesson into segments-the number of hours or days?)

    Students will work independently, in pairs and in groups of four during this lesson.

    • Day One—Engage (one 45 minute class period): Students will generate lists of functions the body performs daily and “decode” a picture drawn by a lab partner.
    • Day Two—Explore and Explain (one 45 minute class period): Students will look at the double-helix structure of DNA and determine how nucleotide bases pair. They will also look at mutations websites and learn what happens when bases do not pair correctly.
    • Days Three thru Five—Elaborate (three 45 minute class periods): Students will code a DNA sequence through the steps of transcription and translation into a sentence. Students will also look at websites to determine the types of mutations and what causes them.
    • Days Six thru Eight—Evaluation* (three 45 minute class periods): Students will work backwards from a word (protein) to the DNA sequence that codes for that word. They will then construct the double-helix DNA molecule.

    *Students may need more time in order to fully construct their projects but this can be done outside of class.
    *For most of the lesson, students will work in pairs. One computer per pair.
    *For group work, students will be designated as A and B partners.

    Engage: Capture the students’ attention, stimulate their thinking and help them access prior knowledge.

    1. Put students into groups of four. In their groups, label the members A-D. Each group of four needs one piece of paper. Each member of the group needs a pen with a different color of ink (for example, A would have red, B would have blue, C would have black and D would use a pencil). Pose the questions to the students: Name some things your body has to do during the day in order for it to function normally. (You may need to remind them that the “things” need to be school appropriate.) The students are to circle the paper around and each write by “saying, writing and passing.” (For those unfamiliar with “say, write, pass”, the students says what they are going to write down, they write it down and then they pass the paper to their right.) The paper needs to go around the group at least twice. A time limit may also be useful. (The paper can be collected for a grade. The instructor can easily tell what students have contributed based on how much they have written based on their “ink” color.)
    2. When students have completed their lists, have them choose 3-4 things they would like to share with the class. Ask student A to share with the class. Write the shared things on the board. When the list has been compiled, ask “How do you think the body manages to do all of these tasks during the day? Does it require you to think about each task? Do you have to tell your body what to do?”
    3. Pair students up with the shoulder partners and label each student in the pair (A & B). Each pair will need two blank sheets of paper. Using only four shapes (triangle, square, rectangle, circle), Student A will draw the four shapes out on a piece of paper without allowing Student B to see the design. Student B will try to draw the pattern that Student A made, using only the verbal instructions given by Student A. When finished, compare drawings.
    4. After this is finished, regroup as a class and say “You had a simple task. Were the instructions given so that you could recreate the design?” Go on to relate the “things your body does” to the instructions that the body needs to do those things. Be sure to emphasize that the body speaks to itself through the use of proteins. Give the example of lactose intolerance. When the body senses that lactose is present, the cells will start manufacturing the code to make lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose). What happens if the body does not do this? The body is miserable.


    Explore: Give students time to think, plan, investigate and organize collected information.

    Using pages 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 (Do It Yourself DNA Kit), students will demonstrate the double helix and DNA replication. Do not give the students page 2.1 initially (this page contains the instructions for how to cut out the DNA strand on page 2.2). On page 2.2, students are to cut out the DNA strand. Have student B (hereafter referred to as the cutter) cut out the DNA strand. Instruct them to also cut out the shaded section. Students A , C and D will cut out the nucleotides on page 2.3. When directed, the cutter will twist the DNA to show what the double helix structure looks like. Then the cutter will “unzip” the DNA and the group will insert nucleotides in to demonstrate DNA replication. THE INSTRUCTOR CAN CIRCULATE AND HAVE THE STUDENTS DEMONSTRATE THE UNZIPPING AND BASE-PAIRING FOR A GRADE AT THIS POINT.

    If students struggle with the unzip concept, have the students form two lines and face each other. Each student will link hands with the student directly across from them. Start at one end and have the students unzip. You can also show how nucleotides come in by assigning a base pair sequence to the DNA using note cards taped to the students. Be sure and give the correct note cards to the nucleotides that will come in once the strand has been unzipped. Having extra nucleotides would emphasize the fact that the nucleus always has nucleotides “floating” around in it.

    Give the students page 2.1 and go over the questions:

    1. Did you notice a pattern during DNA replication?
    2. What always matches with thymine?
    3. What always matches with cytosine?
    4. What always matches with adenine?
    5. What always matches with guanine?
    6. How many DNA molecules did you start with?
    7. How many DNA molecules did you end up with?
    8. Compare the two strands. How would you describe them?


    Explain: Involve students in an analysis of their explorations. Use reflective activities to clarify and modify their understanding.

    Start the session with a short video from Teacher’s Domain called “One Wrong Letter”. (This video is about a small Jewish boy who was born with Tay-Sachs, a genetic defect caused by one wrong nucleotide in the DNA sequence. It is a genetic disorder found mainly in the Jewish culture.)

    Discuss thoughts on the video and then redirect students to yesterday’s activities, asking the following:

    1. What process did we demonstrate yesterday? (replication)
    2. In replication, what nucleotide always matches with thymine? (adenine)
    3. In replication, what nucleotide always matches with cytosine? (guanine)
    4. In replication, what nucleotide always matches with adenine? (thymine)
    5. In replication, what nucleotide always matches with guanine? (cytosine)
    6. How many DNA molecules do you start with? (one)
    7. How many DNA molecules do you end up with? (two)
    8. Compare

      This lesson was added by SuccessLink.

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