Hands-On Biochemistry: Protein Structure with Beads

Grade Levels
9th - 12th
Formats Included
  • PDF
11 pages
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  1. Use beads, pipe cleaners, and paper clips to model all four types of molecules studied in a traditional high school biology biochemistry unit. Students will model monomers, polymers, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). This is a tough unit to teach. Chemical structur
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**Updated April 2016! Previous downloaders, please re-download!**

This is a fun way to teach a traditionally very difficult subject for students to understand. Chemical structures, monomers, and polymers are so abstract! My students love my protein structure activity and performing this task really helps them to understand the concepts needed for the basic biochemistry taught in high school biology courses.

This product is part of my Hands-On Biochemistry Bundle! The bundle includes Carbohydrates, Lipids, and Proteins!

Before performing this activity, students should have a basic background in chemistry. Single bonds, simple molecular structure recognition, and an understanding of dehydration synthesis and hydrolysis reactions are necessary to complete the activity. Also, there is one question that refers to a monosaccharide, so it will help if your students have learned about carbohydrates already.

This activity could directly follow my “Learning about Carbohydrate Structure with Beads”. Performing both of these activities will greatly increase student understanding of molecular structure, carbohydrates, proteins, and the differences between the two polymer categories.

Students will read through a packet of careful instructions and form polypeptide chains using beads and pipe cleaners. Each bead represents a monomer and beads on a pipe cleaner represent a polymer. This activity goes through amino acid structure, primary/secondary/tertiary/quaternary structure, and the polypeptide vs protein concept. The questions were designed to start basic and push students to think and understand. This activity should take about 60 minutes. There is an additional questions page that could be completed in class or for homework.

This activity has 5 student pages, a full answer key, and a teacher preparation guide. The teacher will need assorted beads (including some with alphabet letters) and pipe cleaners which are easily found in a local craft store. Small paper plates and Ziploc bags are also needed.

If you like this activity, check out my other biochemistry activity: Carbohydrate Structure with Beads!
Hands-On Biochemistry: Carbohydrate Structure with Beads"

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Total Pages
11 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
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