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DNA, Molecular Biology, Cancer, and Smoking
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Origins of Molecular Biology
Grades 6-9

The solving of the structure of DNA by James Watson and Frances Crick has had the greatest impact
on biology and medicine, more than any other discovery in the 20th century. In the activities
described, students join Watson and Crick in using information available at the time of their
discovery to draw conclusions about the structure of DNA. Using a simple kit that is analogous to
the model used by Watson and Crick, students learn about hydrogen bonding and base pairing of DNA.
In a second activity, students learn about the electromagnetic spectrum that explains many common
phenomena that students use everyday. They see how x-ray diffraction images are produced and can
be interpreted. Such an image was used to derive the correct model of DNA structure. Additionally,
students are exposed to how research from different scientists around the world is pulled together to
shape a new concept.

Information to Build and Operate Your Cells
Grades 6-9

Students gain a basic understanding of the mechanics of genetics as revealed through the structure and
function of the hereditary material, DNA. Students in grades 6 through 9 learn about the biochemistry
of the cell and the location and structure of DNA as they extract DNA from cells. They also learn
about mutation and chromosomal abnormalities through the analysis of human chromosome number
and form (karyotyping).

Molecular Effects of Smoking
Carcinogens & the Cell Cycle
Grades 6-9

Students explore the important biological concepts of DNA structure and protein function, by looking at
the molecular effects of exposure to the chemicals in tobacco smoke. Students examine the interaction
of the carcinogen, benzopyrene, with DNA and its mutagenic effect on protein structure through model
building. Students are introduced to the concept of cancer and the control of the cell cycle through
role play.

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