Hands-on Biochemistry: Carbohydrate Structure with Beads

Grade Levels
9th - 12th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
9 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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**Recently updated to include deeper questions on polysaccharides and teacher setup pictures added!**

Chemical structures, monomers, and polymers are so abstract! This activity is designed to teach your students about monosaccharides, polysaccharides, and energy storage in organisms. My students love my carbohydrate 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 completing this activity, students will need a basic background on the following terms: monomer, polymer, dehydration synthesis reaction, and hydrolysis reaction.

Students in groups will read through a packet of careful instructions and form simple carbohydrates using beads and pipe cleaners. Each bead represents a monomer and beads on a pipe cleaner represent a polymer. The questions were designed to start basic and push students to think and understand. This activity should take about 45-60 minutes. There is an additional questions page that could be completed in class or for homework.

There is a full answer key included and a teacher preparation guide!

The teacher will need white, beige, yellow beads, and white, green, and red 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, please check out my Protein Structure Beads Activity!
Hands-On Biochemistry: Protein Structure with Beads!

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Total Pages
9 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 hour
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