DNA Origami

What's this Science Bite about?

Make a DNA molecule origami model.

DNA or DeoxyriboNucleic Acid is the building block of all living things. It exists in our bodies as long strands of information tightly coiled within our cells. If uncoiled the DNA from a single cell would be about 2 metres long!

In this Science Bite, you can make a short strand of a DNA molecule to better understand its structure.

Always remember to ask your parent or guardian to help you.

What you'll need

icon DNA Origami template (70.05 kB)

How to do the experiment

Download and print (in colour preferably) the DNA Origami template. Follow the instructions in the video below.

Can't see the video above? Watch it on Youtube.

Instructions:

All folds should have a thin line on the inside and a thick line on the outside.

  1. Fold in half lengthwise so the colours are on the outside.
    Fold in half lengthwise so the colours are on the outside.

  2. Make all creases as firm as possible (use your fingernail).
    Make all creases as firm as possible (use your fingernail).

  3. Hold the paper so that the thick lines are diagonal, the thin lines are horizontal and the open edge of the paper is on the left.

  4. Fold along the 1st horizontal line.
    Fold along the 1st horizontal line.

  5. Unfold and fold along the 2nd horizontal line.
    Unfold and fold along the 2nd horizontal line.

  6. Repeat for all horizontal lines.
    Repeat for all horizontal lines.

  7. Turn the paper over so that the thick lines are horizontal.
    Turn the paper over so that the thick lines are horizontal.

  8. Fold along the first diagonal line.
    Fold along the first diagonal line.

  9. Unfold and fold along the second diagonal line.

  10. Repeat for all diagonal lines.

  11. Fold the white edge without letters up so that the letters face you.
    Fold the white edge without letters up so that the letters face you.

  12. Turn the paper over and repeat on the other side.
    Turn the paper over and  repeat on the other side.

  13. Unfold each edge so it forms a right angle with the coloured section of the model.

  14. Hold the model so the diagonal folds are pointing towards you.

  15. Pinch the top diagonal line in the centre where the colours meet.

  16. Repeat for each diagonal line until the model is a tight ‘bundle’.
    Repeat for each diagonal  line until the model is a  tight ‘bundle’.

  17. Let go and admire your completed DNA double helix.
    Let go and admire your completed DNA double helix.

Find out more...

The shape of a DNA molecule is like a spiral staircase and is known as a double helix. The steps of the staircase are made up of four different bases:

  • Adenine (A)
  • Cytosine (C)
  • Guanine (G)
  • Thymine (T)

A always pairs with T. C always pairs with G. This is known as complimentary base pairing.

Visit BodyWorks at Glasgow Science Centre - an interactive exhibition all about human health and wellbeing in the 21st Century.

Original images and instructions are available from www.yourgenome.org

Curriculum Links

Body Systems and Cells

SCN 3-12a

Inheritance

SCN 1-14a/ 3-14b/

TripAdvisor

Glasgow Science Centre