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Introduction to Proteins and DNA

The Teacher Notes present a sequence of activities that will help students understand the basic structure and function of proteins and DNA.

To understand how genes influence our characteristics, students learn that different versions of a protein can result in different characteristics, and a gene in the DNA determines which version of a protein is synthesized by a person’s cells.

This information is conveyed through a PowerPoint with a sequence of discussion questions and videos, a Student Handout, and an optional hands-on learning activity. This sequence can be used in an introductory unit on biological molecules or to introduce a unit on molecular biology.

The first two attached files have the Teacher Notes, with the suggested sequence of questions for class discussion, videos and activities, together with an explanation of how the activity is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. The PowerPoint is available as the third attached file. The Student Handout is available in the last two attached files and as a Google doc designed for use in distance learning and online instruction. (For additional instructions, see, especially item 7.)

Proteins DNA TN .docx4.41 MB
Proteins DNA TN .pdf866.79 KB
proteins DNA ppt.pptx3.84 MB
proteins DNA SHO.docx1.4 MB
proteins DNA SHO.pdf275.92 KB


iwaldron's picture

2023 revision

I have revised the Teacher Notes, PowerPoint and Student Handout with multiple clarifications and additions.


iwaldron's picture

2020 revision

In the Teacher Notes, I have clarified the Instructional Sequence. I have enhanced the PowerPoint with additional figures and links to videos. The Student Handout has also been revised.

iwaldron's picture

2019 revision

To enhance the teacher-friendliness of this learning activity, I have added a Student Handout to accompany the sequence of learning activities presented in the Teacher Notes. In addition, I have incorporated improved resources in the sequence of learning activities.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Closed captioned videos needed

I have had to find alternative videos and do some related editing because the videos need to be closed captioned for our hearing impaired students. Auto-generated captions usually do not make sense.

Because of several days missed this semester due to bad weather, our school finds itself almost two weeks behind in our curriculum. These lessons have given me an easy and effective way to teach genetics, DNA, and protein synthesis at one time and in the little amount of remaining classes I have to cover these concepts. You have greatly reduced this teacher's stress level.

iwaldron's picture

2017 revision

This revision has clarified some of the explanations and updated links to suggested resources.

Michael Szczepanik's picture

Video not available?

The video described in this step:
Introduce or reinforce a basic understanding of protein structure, using the 2 minute video available at .
Is listed as "private" and is inaccessible. Are there suggested substitutes that you have?

Thank you so much for your work on this site!

iwaldron's picture

Substitute videos


Thank you for calling my attention to this broken link. Here are three suggested substitutes.

 Introduce or reinforce a basic understanding of protein structure, using a 1-minute video (, a 12 minute video (, or a 10-minute video with an emphasis on secondary structure ( 

I will post a revised version of these Teacher Notes with these new suggested videos.


soheir Hegzy's picture

Understanding the Functions of Proteins and DNA

Thank you so much for this valuable & well organized data .As well as its helpful website with so much great information and wonderful ideas

iwaldron's picture

2015 Revision

This revision provides additional suggestions for discussion and resources to help students develop a strong basic understanding of the functions of proteins and DNA.

Serendip Visitor's picture



iwaldron's picture

2013 revision

The 2013 revision includes additional background information to facilitate teaching the suggested activities.

Serendip Visitor - Ms. Hunter's picture

Thank you

Thank you so much for this well organized easy to use website with so much great information and wonderful ideas!

iwaldron's picture

August 2012 revision

The main change in this revision has been to add background information on each of the conditions used to illustrate the effects of proteins (lactose intolerance, albinism, sickle cell anemia and hemophilia).

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