Introduction: Paper DNA (Double Helix)

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I made one of these for my Biology class. It doesn't take very long and it looks pretty cool in the end. The one I made for school is colored. I've also made another one without using tools. Any way, here's what you need:

1 sheet of 8.5" by 11" paper
A pencil
A ruler


This can actually be done with any size of paper. This works best when the width of the sheet is around 8- 9 inches.

This could be used as a fun, cheap way to teach about DNA. Students would learn about the structure of a DNA strand and about how  the four chemicals (Guanine, Adenine, Thymine, and Cytosine) combine in long complex structures to create the blueprints for what the cell makes.

NOTE: The DNA in the photos twists towards the left. As explained to me DNA actually spirals to the right. This is just a matter of which way you make your folds. Thanks to yardleydobon for pointing this out.

Step 1: Mark It Down the Middle

Mark the paper down the middle. On a standard sheet of paper that's 4 1/4".

Step 2: Marking Out the Sugar- Phosphate Backbone.

Make one line 3/8" from each edge and do the same on either side of the middle line. This creates the Sugar Phosphate Backbone of the DNA.

Step 3: Marking Out Each Nitrogenus Base

Now, use your ruler to make a line every inch down the line. make sure these are even or it won't turn out right.

Then make a line across each rectangle you just made. The lines on each side should point inward like a "V". As you can see, I accidentally did this wrong in the picture.

If you want to color it, this is the step to do it. Just split each rectangle in half and color each according to the Nitrogenus base.

Remember: Adenine -> Thymine and Guanine->Cytosine

To color the back bone, split each section on the sides and middle across the middle and alternate black and white.

Step 4: Fold It in Half

Pretty straightforward.

Step 5: Fold the Backbone

Using the lines on each side, fold one up and the other down.

Step 6: Starting the Nitrogenus Bases.

Using the lines as a guide fold each of the rectangles back. It should now curl up into a little tube on it's own.

Step 7: Flip It Over

You should have no trouble doing this.

Step 8: Fold the Diagonals

Fold back on each diagonal line. Only fold inside of the rectangle. It should now twist into a spiral.

Step 9: Collapse the DNA

Starting at the top gently collapse the entire thing. Try not to crush it! Then pinch it together and make sure all of the folds are creased.

Step 10: Let Go!

Let go of the compressed DNA strand. Congratulations! You just finished! 

Step 11: A Little About DNA

For people who don't know all that much about DNA:

    DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid. It resides inside the nucleolus, which is in the nucleus of Eukaryotic Cells. In Prokaryotic Cells DNA free floats due to the cell's lack of a membrane. It is the blueprints to the many things a cell creates. Each section of DNA is called a nucleotide. A nucleotide is made of one phosphate molecule, one deoxyribose sugar molecule and one nitrogenus base. There are four types of nitrogenus bases. Thymine, Adenine, Guanine and Cytosine. Thymine only bonds with Adenine. Cytosine only bonds with Guanine. The specific order of Nitrogenus bases determines what the strand creates. The deoxyribose sugar and the phosphate create the sugar-phosphate backbone. The reason DNA twists is because of how the 3 components in a nucleotide bonds. Nothing in nature is usually perfect, and the 3 components must warp to be able to create a bond. 


Comments

author
The+lego+girl made it!(author)2016-07-11

This is really cool
I did it ??
Thank you so much for giving us this awesome science craft!

author
Parshant+A made it!(author)2016-05-20

Unable to do last step

1463739908367351485603.jpg
author
seamster made it!(author)2011-12-06

This is really neat! It would be even better if you included a PDF of the pattern already laid out. Just draw it out, scan it directly as a PDF, and include it in one of the steps.

(I include PDF patterns with some of my instructables, and people really respond well to it. Just a thought!)

author
General+Eggs made it!(author)2011-12-06

The PDFs are easy to find on the internet. I was just trying to do it without a template because so many people make tutorials about using a template.

author
seamster made it!(author)2011-12-06

Ah, I see. Very good!

author
or_ford98 made it!(author)2012-08-16

Any links for the PDF's? i cant find any D:

author
or_ford98 made it!(author)2012-09-08

ah, thank you general

author
yardleydobon made it!(author)2011-12-29

DNA is right-handed. Your paper helix is left-handed.

author
bruce226 made it!(author)2012-01-29

I happen to know that General Eggs is left handed. This could have contributed to this. Still it's a cool project!

author
General+Eggs made it!(author)2012-01-03

oops... the way it twists really just depends on the way you make your folds, but thanks for pointing that out!

author
Xenobia made it!(author)2011-12-06

I love this! Very clear instructions, thank you.

author
foobear made it!(author)2011-12-06

Nifty. I wish there was a video demo too though because I'm so dumb, I don't get it. Thank you!

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iminthebathroom made it!(author)2011-12-05

Aw, ChrysN said awesome already - OK AMAZING, my mind is turning right now with a thought.... click, click, click

author
ChrysN made it!(author)2011-12-04

Cool, that looks awesome!

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Bio: I enjoy tinkering with electronics, building useful things and recycling. I'm also an Eagle Scout and camp counselour who enjoys the outdoors
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