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Protein synthesis can be a difficult concept for biology students. This activity allows them to discover the key steps of the process and practice essential vocabulary. Print the diagram and have students analyze it to fill in each blank. When done, each should read it to a partner and let the partner verbally fill in the blanks, then switch.
Instructions For Matching Cards:
30 min – as long as you need
This can be done after students have some knowledge of transcription/translation.
There are 16 cards each for DNA triplets (see “D” in upper left corner), mRNA codons (see “m” in upper left corner) and amino acids (aa). It would be helpful to print them on three different colors. The numbers on each help you quickly check for correct matches. For transcription, the sum of matching cards = 17. For translation, the amino acid number is the codon number x2. Some “aa” cards match more than one “m” card so that is a good way to demonstrate the redundancy of the code. (64 codons = 20 amino acids.)
I would pass out the DNA and mRNA cards and have each student find the match. I would do this 2 or 3 times for extra practice. Then, have students use the mRNA codon cards to find the amino acid. If you like, you can give students “aa” cards and they can play the role of tRNA or, have “aa” cards placed all over the room (like they would be in a cell.) They can use their codon chart from the earlier activity.