Exploring genes

Props to explain DNA and molecular biology, including a plastic DNA gel!
Useful information
Kit List: 

• DNA model (in clear plastic box). The model uncoils, and can be split into two strands. There’s a round black stand for this is the box too. [DNA MODEL IS CURRENTLY BROKEN]
• 2 x plates of plastic bacteria. The GFP plate can be used to explain how you can insert useful genes into an organism (and it glows in the dark!). The pBlue plate can be used to explain how you can select a colony with the right gene it if you’re doing cloning
• Box of lab plastic ware (falcon tubes and eppendorfs), which can be used to show how molecular biologists use small volumes in the lab
• Pipette (20 ul Gilson, on loan so please take care of it!)
• Pipette tips (1-20 ul)
• 2 x model gels, plus "tank" (use with crocodile clips and laminated sketch of battery to describe running the gel)
• Coloured dye for gel (use only 1-2 ul when you load each lane)

Packing Away: 

Rinse and dry any tips used, so they can be used again without constant restocking - don't throw them in an ordinary bin, as they punch through bin liners and can cause damage. If they are to be thrown away place them in a solid container (small cardboard box etc) and mark with 'Tips'.

Frequency of use: 


“Exploring genes” is a box full of props that molecular biologists can use to talk about how you can actually work with DNA in a lab. All this kit was been bought just before the 2011 Summer Roadshow, so we haven’t figured out all the best stories you can use it to tell quite yet. We’re expecting it to be useful to for demonstrators who’ve got enough lab experience to be able to talk about the basics of DNA. The notes in kiwi DNA are probably useful to help get the right level for the public. Please add some notes if you’ve demonstrated this to help this to help us write up some more detailed notes for the next CHaOS event.

Suggested activity 1: Play with DNA model
- DNA is a chemical which encodes genetic information, these units/words of genetic information are genes. Genes are units made of DNA
- Genes are (mostly) instructions for making proteins
- 46 DNA molecules per human cell nucleus (23 chromosomes, two of each pair, one from each parent).
- Helix is about 20 x 10^-10 m wide, about 2m of DNA per human cell
- Shape is double helix, as two strands wrap around each other
- Structure of double helix discovered partly from work in Cambridge (Francis Crick & James Watson in 1953, with help from Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin in London)
- Straighten out, looks like a ladder
- Sides are ladder stay the same and protect the steps - information is in variable steps of the ladder
- Colours of steps: there are only 4. 4 letters in the DNA alphabet.
- Base pairing - only certain pairs allowed. This enables one strand to act as a template for another.
- Split first few base pairs, as DNA makes a template for itself, can make two identical molecules.
- As DNA can replicate exactly, enables one cell to divide into two daughter cells with identical genetic material.
- This is how all our body cells can have the same DNA!

Suggested activity 2: Loading model gels
- Show them the small tubes and pipettes- we've moved away from glass test tubes in molecular biology!
- Set up two tupperware tubs, one "gel tank", one for rinsing
- Fill "gel tank" above level of toy gel
- Load 1-2 ul of coloured dye, is a couple of wells
- "Run" gel, well not quite, but attach picture of battery to top (+ near wells) + bottom (-) of the tank
- Show second gel with bands to show how DNA fragments move according to size (small ones move fastest through gel)
- See notes in box on gel electrophoresis and DNA fingerprinting

Risk Assessment
Date risk assesment last checked: 
Wed, 08/01/2020
Risk assesment checked by: 
Matt Worssam
Date risk assesment double checked: 
Sat, 25/01/2020
Risk assesment double-checked by: 
Risk Assessment: 
Hazard Risk Affected Person(s) Likelihood Severity Overall Mitigation Likelihood Severity Overall
Props Trip hazard if dropped on the floor. All 3 2 6 Keep all props in contained area and immediately pick up any that drop on floor.
In case of emergency, call first aider.
2 2 4
Dye Staining clothes/skin with dye. Could have a reaction to the dye if on skin. All 3 2 6 Demonstrator should handle dyes if child is a bit too young or is misbehaving.
Wash affected area.
Call a first aider in the event of an adverse reaction.
3 1 3
Sharp tips Tips could cause injury to hands and eyes. Public 3 3 9 Demonstrator should not let child handle tips if they are too young or are misbehaving. Demonstrator keep tips in box, and dispose of in 'Tip' box. Call a first aider in the event of an accident. 2 3 6