DNA: Structure and function

Research the fundamentals of DNA in humans — where it is, how it’s structured, and what it does — to explain them to a confused reader of your science magazine.

  • High School
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About This Simulation

Your hair color, the curve of your smile, and even your likelihood of getting sick are at least in part determined by your DNA. But what is DNA made of, and how does it work? In this simulation, you will learn how DNA is structured and how DNA’s code translates to functional molecules called proteins.

Intern for a Science Magazine

You will work as an intern for a science magazine, Science Explained. One of the magazine’s readers has written a letter to you. They’re confused about DNA and have some questions about its structure and function. It’s your job to find out the answers and clear things up. 

Learn from an Expert

You’ll be sent to a DNA lab under the supervision of an all-knowing AI companion, Dr. One, to gather information for the magazine. First, you will dive inside a cell to see how double-helical DNA is packaged in chromosomes - details too small to see even with a microscope. Next, you’ll build a nucleotide from smaller chemical components: a deoxyribose sugar, nitrogenous base, and phosphate group. Given a single strand of DNA, you’ll race against the clock to make the complementary strand, applying your knowledge of complementary base pairing. Lastly, you’ll learn about protein synthesis, and your final challenge will be to read and translate a gene’s sequence to reveal a hidden word made from amino acid letters. 

Explain DNA to a Confused Reader

After each activity, you’ll pause and answer one of the reader’s questions about DNA’s location, structure, and function, to make sure that you have understood the key concepts. Will you be able to answer the reader’s questions and clear up their confusion?

Explore DNA: Structure and function Virtual Lab Simulation

Magazine board room
Base pairing minigame 2
Amino acid minigame

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