My son’s a sweet person… it must be in his DNA. Our yellow lab puppy digs holes… it must be in her DNA. After building our candy DNA model for our edible science series and having a simple conversation about DNA, my son’s little DNA jokes didn’t quit. DNA is fascinating and making it out of candy is just as fascinating according to my kid. The science you can eat too!
CANDY DNA MODEL FOR EDIBLE SCIENCE
DNA MODEL PROJECT
This year we are exploring edible science experiments. I’m not talking just about science using food (we have that too), but I’m talking about science you can nibble on. There’s no better way into my son’s heart or brain than with food. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he’s growing like a weed!
Building a candy DNA model with my 8-year-old son allowed us to explore and talk about the basic biology of living organisms such as ourselves. DNA is a fairly advanced topic but there are some simple facts about DNA you can share with your (early) elementary school age kids. Read on to find out more about the science behind our DNA model project.
What materials can you use to make a DNA model? Soft candy that comes in 4 different colors to represent the structure of DNA and toothpicks is an easy way to make your own DNA model.
If you have some extra candy laying around or want to pick up a few bags for a group biology project, building a candy DNA model with the kids is a great hands-on science activity.
Our bodies are made up of trillions of different cells. These cells contain hugely important molecules called DNA within the nucleus of the cell. The function of DNA is to essentially tell the cells what to do.
DNA sends information to our cells for proper function and is also what makes us unique to one another.
DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid and is made up of molecules called nucleotides. Each nucleotide contains a phosphate group, a sugar group and a nitrogen base. The four types of nitrogen bases are adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine. The order of these bases is what determines the DNA’s instructions, or genetic code.
Each string of DNA carries a set of instructions called genes. The gene tells the cell how to make a specific protein. Proteins are used by the cell to perform certain functions, to grow, and to survive. These genes are also passed down to offspring.
DNA CANDY MODEL PROJECT
- Twizzlers (represent the backbone consisting of sugars and phosphates)
- Soft Candy (Something that comes in 4 colors but is all the same type of candy to represent the A, T, C, G nucleotides)
- 4 cups to separate candies by color
HOW TO MAKE A DOUBLE HELIX MODEL OF DNA
STEP 1. Start your candy DNA model by sorting the 4 colors of candy into separate bowls. Then you want to assign each one to a specific nucleotide. These 4 nucleotides along with the sugars and phosphates make up your double helix candy DNA model.
REMEMBER: Adenine and Thymine are always paired together. Cytosine and Guanine are always paired together.
STEP 2. Now it’s time to start making up pairs for building your candy DNA model. Our DNA can not be seen with they eyes only high powered microscopes but DNA is long thin molecules.
STEP 3. Now make your own unique strand of candy DNA and twist them into what is known as a double helix. The backbone (Twizzlers) of your candy DNA model is what gives the double helix a specific shape. They also hold together the A, T, C, G nucleotides.
There are endless combinations that can be made, but the same pairs of nucleotides must stick together.
MORE FUN CANDY SCIENCE
You may still have a bunch of candy leftover depending on how many strands of candy DNA models you make. Challenge your kids to…