**See video to view the kit in action!
This set is designed to allow students to learn about DNA and RNA through playing with the blocks as well as to serve as a manipulative to model processes that involve DNA (described below) Each nucleotide block shows the letter symbol and shape of its corresponding base (either a purine or pyrimidine). The posts and holes at the top of each piece represent the number of hydrogen bond donors (the posts) and acceptors (holes) that each base has. The number and type of the hydrogen bond donors and acceptors determine which bases are able to pair in a DNA molecule.
The nucleotide blocks link together at the bottom in order to form the DNA or RNA backbone. The tops of each block can connect together to show hydrogen bonding with a complementary DNA or RNA strand. Blocks are designed so that only the correct pairs can connect (A with T, A with U, G with C). Kids can learn about the structure of DNA and base pairing just by figuring out how the blocks can and cannot fit together without any previous instruction.
The tRNA models are included so that the kit can be used to show the processes of transcription and translation. After making a model of double stranded DNA, the strands can be split and a complimentary mRNA strand can be built (substituting uracil for thymine). This mRNA strand is then removed. The anticodon on the tRNA models can be customized by inserting a sequence of three nucleotide blocks that pair with the sequence on the mRNA strand. Each anticodon matches a different amino acid block that can be linked to the top of the tRNA model. The tRNA models can then be bound to the mRNA strand and the amino acid blocks linked to form a protein. (See video for how this sequence works).
The set can also be used as a way to teach how DNA mutations such as deletions, insertions, and frame-shifts affect the final amino acid sequence for the protein coded by the DNA.
A blocking group is also included in order to demonstrate how DNA sequencing is done.