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Cooking Up Science with Miss America: "DNA"

Biochemist and Miss America 2020 Camille Schrier
Image: VPM

Home Learning | Cooking Up Science with Miss America

Episode 8: DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the blueprint for all living things, but it is so small we can’t usually see it.  The role of DNA is to provide our cells information on building proteins; these proteins lead to our individual traits such as eye color, height, dimples, and so much more.  The structure of DNA is a double helix and we can model this structure at home.  This model is based on the work of Rosalind Franklin, a British Chemist who created an X-ray photograph that provided evidence of the double-helix structure of DNA molecules. We can also extract DNA from a living thing, such as a strawberry, at home.  The components of this DNA are so small that it does not look like our model; however, with technology scientists can both see the structure and manipulate the structure to change proteins in organisms.  The key concepts and terms explored in this episode include : DNA, nucleotidesgenes, and genetically modified organisms (GMO's).

Produced by Camille Schrier, Miss America 2020, in partnership with VPM.

For more information: 

DNA Candy Model Activity and DNA Extraction Resources:

Virginia Standards of Learning Science (2018):

LS 10 The student will investigate and understand that organisms reproduce and transmit genetic information to new generations. Key ideas include:
a) DNA has a role in making proteins that determine organism traits.

The structure and function of DNA are intimately linked. DNA is a double helix molecule containing a specific sequence of nitrogenous bases which create a code for making proteins. Proteins are used to build cells, tissues, organs, and to perform life processes.

  • Chromosomes are strands of tightly wound DNA. Genes are sections of a chromosome that carry the code for a particular protein.  (LS. 10 a).
  • Each gene controls the production of specific proteins, which in turn affects the traits of the organism. Proteins carry out most of the work of cells to perform life functions (LS 10 a).
  • DNA provides the code that tells the cell exactly which proteins to make. The sequence of the bases A, T, C, and G along a section of DNA forms a code to make each protein (LS. 10 a).
  • The sugar and phosphate molecules on the sides of the DNA molecule are always the same for all living things, so when scientists write out the DNA code, they write only the sequence of the pairs of nitrogenous bases in the center (i.e., on the rungs) of the ladder-like DNA molecule (LS. 10 a).

BIO 5 The student will investigate and understand that there are common mechanisms for inheritance. Key ideas include:
a) DNA has structure and is the foundation for protein synthesis;
b) the structural model of DNA has developed over time.