Dr. Gary Benson
Department of Biomathematical Sciences
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
All photos by Kevin Kelliher.
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Simple and informative models of DNA can be built with K'NEX ® brand constructors, found at most toy stores. These models, which take only a few minutes to build, illustrate many important physical properties of DNA including the major and minor grooves, antiparallel strands, right-handed and left-handed helices, positive and negative supercoiling, molecular flexibility, etc. More elaborate models can be built to illustrate complementary base pairing, transcription and replication. If students are allowed to build and manipulate the models, they will gain an intuitive sense of the physical properties of DNA which are essential to many cellular processes. These models can be used in either a high school or college setting. Instructions for building the models and illustrations of various properties of DNA are presented on the following pages. Either follow the pages in order or refer to the table of contents to find a particular topic.
K'NEX is a registered trademark of K'NEX Industries Inc., Hatfield, PA 19440-0700, 1-800-KID-KNEX.