After learning about DNA replication, students recreate the process in a series of critical thinking puzzles (three station lab). These puzzles require teamwork, preferably in groups of four, and creativity in order to successfully complete each task. This lab details the following characteristics of DNA: variation in sequencing, precision in replication, and the implications of mutations.
This activity is great for an intro to mutations after students have been introduced to replication, and can easily incorporate a review of specific mutations as well.
In order to complete this lab you will need to prep the materials. In addition to setting up lab tables as outlined in the answer key, you will need Jenga blocks that can be made to represent the four DNA bases (A, G, T, C) and hydrogen bonds. I marked my bases by assigning a specific color of electrical tape to each base, wrapping one strip of tape around the center of each Jenga block, and writing the letter on said tape. For hydrogen bond blocks I simply left those blocks bare. The set I created (using two sets of Jenga blocks to make some extra) have held up extremely well over the years.
When students construct the DNA strands as instructed in the lab, they will follow this process:
Place the first set of complementary base pairs parallel to each other (A-G), spaced less than two inches apart (approximately the length of one Jenga block). Then, lay an unmarked Jenga block (hydrogen bond) perpendicular on top of the bases, across the bases. Choose your next base pair (T-C), setting the on top of the hydrogen bond, just above the first pair. Repeat this process until the DNA is fully constructed.