Sixth Graders Learn That DNA Holds the Code

Sixth graders are engaged in a science unit on DNA, and are building "snorks"—made-up characters with lots of interesting traits—to help them prepare for their collaborative DNA project. “We are learning about DNA and how it holds the code to build our traits,” explains teacher Lindsay Mackintosh. “Each snork has a different genetic code which, in turn, codes for different traits. Once students are able to decipher the code, they are able to build their unique snorks.” Students decoded traits including hairy or hairless, round head or square head, and long spaghetti-like arms or short stumpy arms, among others. This project is an introduction to a larger class project, in which students will create their own instructions to build something and will then encode it into DNA code. Students will then give their codes to another group so that group can decode it and then build something from the code, just like DNA.
“This class project is highly collaborative and gives the students a lot of agency and space to grow,” adds Ms. Mackintosh. “Students come up with incredibly creative ideas for their peers and in the process they start to understand how DNA works, including experiencing a mutation if there happens to be a mistake!” MORE PHOTOS