How to Make a 3D DNA Model Project

How to Make a 3D DNA Model Project
DNA - the blueprint of our life! Making a three-dimensional model, either for a school project or just because you want to understand DNA better, is very simple. This BiologyWise write-up shows you how to make a 3D DNA model project with clay.
BiologyWise Staff
Interesting Facts!
  • If you uncoiled all the DNA you have in all your cells, and laid them end to end, you could reach the moon 6000 times!
  • All humans have 99.9% common DNA.
  • Humans and chimps share around 95% of their DNA.
  • Siblings share 50%, whereas twins share 100% of their DNA.
A 3D DNA model will enable kids to understand the concept of DNA in a fun and interesting way. Be it for a school project or just an activity to study DNA better, making a model can be fun and exciting too! And yes, simple materials are all you need, to make this model.

Before we begin with the different ways in which you can make a DNA model, it is crucial to understand the basic structure of DNA. DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is like the building blocks of human life. They are present in all humans and most other organisms. James Watson and Francis Crick first figured out the structure of DNA is a double-helix.

The structure is fairly simple, resembling a twisted ladder. To make a 3D model, we need to make two strands―sugar and phosphate―and then pairs of nitrogenous bases―adenine and thymine and cytosine and guanine. Just attach the bases like steps of a ladder between the two strands, twist them, and your DNA model is ready! Remember DNA always twists to the right. The four bases are adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine. Adenine and thymine, and cytosine and guanine are always paired together. Here, we have provided an easy step-by-step guide to create a 3D DNA model using only clay.

Things you will need
  • Polymer clay (six colors)
  • Flexible wire
  • Oven
DNA Model Project Instructions
Here, we will use polymer clay as it can be baked. Normal clay model will not be sturdy enough, especially if you want a larger model for projects or exhibitions. You need polymer clay in six different colors, one color each for sugars, phosphates, adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine. Flexible wires will help support your model better.
3d dna project sugar
We start with the double helix of the DNA. It is made from sugars and phosphates. We have assigned the color red for sugar groups. Just make two long strands of clay. Cut two equal pieces of flexible wire, and roll the clay on it. This will make your base strong. Depending on the size of the final model, you can decide the exact thickness and length of the strand.
3d dna project double helix
To make the phosphate strands, just roll the blue-colored clay to make two strands. Using a knife, cut around half-inch pieces of blue clay. Wrap them to the sugar strand, that is the red strand, at a distance of half an inch. Thus, you'll get alternate sugar and phosphate groups (blue and red). The final result should look like the image shown above. Ensure that all the clay pieces adhere to each other properly.
3d dna nitrogenous bases combined
Now, it's time to make the nitrogenous bases. Remember the correct pairs, cytosine-guanine and thymine-adenine. You can choose any colors of your choice and make the bases as shown in the image. Just combine two pieces of clay to make a base. Use a small piece of flexible wire inside for support.
3d dna helix and bases
Your double helix is ready, and so are the nitrogenous bases; all you gotta do is attach them properly. Just attach the bases to the sugars, i.e., the red clay. You can use small pieces of flexible wire, or toothpicks to secure them properly. This is the most important part, you don't want pieces of clay falling apart when you mount the model.
3d dna final
Wow, looks amazing right? Just a little patience, now all you need to do is bake the model in an oven. Your clay packet will have the time and other baking instructions on it. After it cools down, you can mount it on a stand, and enjoy all the appreciation!
That was easy, wasn't it? You can also use beads or small balls to make the nitrogenous bases, and use toothpicks to attach them. Making a model will help you understand the structure of DNA instantly. Have fun!