Discovering Dynamic DNA: More Than Just As, Ts, Gs and Cs

Presenter - Keri Shingleton, Ph.D., Holland Hall, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Friday April 1st, 12:30pm

The structure and function of nucleic acids is a foundational concept of biology.  Although most students recognize the double-helical structure of DNA, they have difficulty understanding the importance of the details. During this hands-on, minds-on workshop, participants will examine how modeling with this approach deepens student engagement and inquiry. While investigating our first model, participants explore how using a simple but carefully designed model allows students of all levels to discover basic features of DNA structure and function, and to formulate questions about it.  Next, workshop participants will explore DNA’s dynamic structure and function using an atomically accurate model of DNA. With this model, we will assemble five nucleotides, buid DNA and RNA polymers, and examine the features, including the flexibility, of both molecules.  Both models will be used to demonstrate the function of DNA, including transcription and translation.   
(NGSS Science and Engineering Practices / Developing and Using Models) to explore the structure of DNA, this workshop will challenge teachers to go beyond the traditional approach of just teaching the facts of DNA structure. By using well developed models, students can engage with these foundational concepts through discovery and inquiry. We will demonstrate an NGSS-aligned teaching practice in which students are encouraged to ask questions and develop critical thinking skills.  Teachers will also learn how these instructional materials can be utilized to design formative and summative assessments for their students.