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DNA Replication Animation

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Keywords: animation, DNA replication
Subject(s): Life Science, Animation, Biology, Science
Grades 7 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: The Marin School, Sausalito, CA
Planned By: Jeff Sandler
Original Author: Jeff Sandler, Sausalito
DNA Replication Animation

Purpose: Students gain a better insight into DNA replication by using modeling clay and stop-motion animation to illustrate the process. This is very helpful for students who are visual and tactile learners.

Animation Software
Webcam or other suitable camera
Modeling clay (could even use PlayDoh, or make your own "playdoh" using flour, salt, oil, cream of tartar, and food coloring - recipes easily found online)

1. Students are introduced to claymation and stop-motion animation by showing them some short videos - Wallace and Gromit, or Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" (find it on Youtube) are just a few examples. Students are instructed in the use of the cameras and software.
2. Students are shown the basic overview of DNA replication (this would obviously follow a lesson on the structure and function of DNA).
3. Students are given materials and are instructed to make a short claymation film illustrating the replication of DNA. Students should work in groups of 2-3. Students should also have access to information (books, or online sources) in order to research the process so that they can better illustrate it.
4. Everyone shares their videos in class and gives each other feedback. Have a mini-film festival (complete with popcorn).
This can be adjusted to the level of the students - from illustrating a basic understanding of the process to showing the enzymes that are involved, along with the Okazaki fragments, etc. Students can also make the models so detailed as to illustrate molecular parts, or just use larger nondescript pieces to illustrate the different parts of the DNA molecule. This will also reinforce their overall understanding of the structure of DNA.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Students can research (and show) their favorite claymation and stop-motion animation. With the new remake of "Clash of the Titans", it would be a good time to revisit the classic stop-animation of the original film (esp. for a class on film making).
This technique can also be used to illustrate other biological processes, from protein synthesis to mitosis and meiosis.
Materials: Digital Cameras, Tripods, Animation