DNA Replication Using Recycled Materials- School Project

My daughter asked me to help with her science project, the DNA replication using recycled materials. I knew that most students would be using styrofoam and styroballs so I thought of something that would set hers apart. I found an old garden hose and decided we could turn it into a nice double helix. The good thing about this is apart from no cost at all, you must have colored papers and other art materials on hand, you do not have to paint at all so no extra effort and time to clean up. So here’s what to do:

Materials for DNA Replication

First, gather the materials needed:
Garden hose
Colored or construction papers, 6 colors
Tie wire
Cut 4” pieces of tie wire, about 10-12.
Using the cutter, cut the hose into 1” and ½” tubes for the sugar-phosphate group depending on the length you want for your model. Then choose two colors for the sugar-phosphate, I used red and white, from bond paper rejects that could still be used. Cut the papers into 2”×2” squares and use them to wrap the tubes, securing the edges with a glue and pushing the ends neatly inside. On the wrapped 1” tubes, make small holes, can be one, two or three holes where you will insert the cut tie wires later. You can use an iron nail or an ice pick to cut holes. These wires will serve as the hydrogen bonds between the bases. Don’t forget to label the tubes with a marker, D- deoxyribose P-Phosphate.



Next prepare the tubes to be used as nitrogenous bases and cut more 1″ tubes. Wrap them in four different colors for cytosine, guanine, thymine, and adenine, just like you did with the sugar-phosphate group. Then group them in pairs, cytosine always goes with guanine, and thymine always goes with adenine. And don’t forget to label each tube. Now you are ready to assemble your DNA model.

Assembling the Double Helix

First you will need two sets of the sugar-phosphate group to make the sides of the ladder. Bend the end of a 20” long tie wire a little so as not to let the tubes slip to the other end when you thread them. Just like you do when you thread beads. Now place them alternately, white-red-white-red. I used 11 reds and 11 whites for each set by the way. But make sure that both sets are in uniformed pattern. In the first set, insert to the hole or holes the rungs, those 4” pre-cut wires but do it one at a time. Then carefully put a pair of a nitrogenous base into the rung and insert the other end to the other side of the ladder or the other set of sugar-phosphate. Do it similarly with all of the pairs of the nitrogenous bases. Afterward secure the ends by twisting or bending the ends of the wire. Now done, you already have a sturdy form of a ladder. Subsequently, hold both ends carefully and make a counter clockwise twist to make a spiral staircase. You can either mount it on a wooden frame to display like I did, or hang it. Voila, you now have a DNA double helix replica!