Introduction To Genetic Jewelry
To the teacher:

The essential hardware of evolution is the genome. Students can understand change through time, organic evolution, only when they understand the elegance and beauty as well as the utility of DNA, the chemical basis of the gene. Genes drive the production of proteins, the structural and functional building blocks of living organisms.

Cumulative changes in DNA sequences through time, can lead to significant differences in breeding populations, changes which, over vast amounts of time, can lead to speciation. These changes acted on by the environment cause evolution.

In order for students to understand genetics and evolution, they must first know the structure of the DNA molecule. The function of DNA proceeds from its unique structure, a structure beautifully adapted for information storage, transcription, translation into amino acid sequences, replication, and time travel. This activity illustrates that structure in a simple and colorful way which includes details of the purine and pyrimidine nitrogen bases and the relative positions of the sugar-phosphate backbone. We have included this activity among the ENSI materials to help students master the molecule of change.



To the student:

The real family treasures are not jewels at all they are the DNA molecules that have constructed each member your family. These immortal coils have carried your family's genetic information through vast reaches of time to the present. The digital information encoded within the molecule constructs and orchestrates perfectly formed protein bodies... you! Your protein body, if it is successful, lives, grows, matures and reproduces-- you help make a baby. Next comes the hard part. It takes total commitment to raise your new protein body, your baby. With love, encouragement, education and hard work, your "family treasures" may have the chance to leap into the future! You may see part of your DNA live in your grandchildren and great grandchildren.

DNA stands for DeoxyriboseNucleic Acid. The structure of DNA was unraveled in 1953 in Cambridge, England by two researchers, Francis Crick (English) and James Watson (American). These two men will be honored in the future for as many centuries as Aristotle and Plato have been in the past. Their contribution to our understanding of life and ourselves is vast and far-reaching. The molecule itself is elegant in its simplicity, and makes great jewelry!

The DNA molecule is composed of four different nucleotide bases. They are Adenine, Guanine, Thymine and Cytosine. The Adenine and Thymine are molecular mates as are the Guanine and Cytosine. These are held in a long helix shape by a backbone of phosphate and deoxyribose sugar. The data contained within the DNA molecule is digital and is processed and passed on from generation to generation with very few errors or changes. The DNA you inherited from your ancestors resides in almost every one of the cells of your body. A "half set" resides in each of your reproductive cells, waiting for a complement, so they may "jump" into the future!

We have found this to be a useful project to teach people about the details of the structure of DNA. Middle school students, high school students, and teachers in our workshops have all successfully constructed the molecule. They reinvent the process and make wonderful embellishments. It's an excellent teaching tool and adornment, as well.

Title Page
DNA Central

Step One
Step Two
Step Three
Step Four
Step Five
Step Six
Step Seven
Step Eight
Step Nine
Step Ten
Step Eleven
Step Twelve
Step Thirteen
Step Fourteen