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This is a fairly advanced lesson in biotechnology, DNA sequencing, and gene expression. Therefore, there is prerequisite information students should know before beginning this lesson. They should understand the genetic code and its relationship to RNA and amino sequence in proteins. An understanding of protein structure and function and the impact of mutations on protein structure would also be useful. The first part of the lesson may actually be the most difficult. However, students should be able to learn about PCR and cycle sequencing on-line. The FBI sites provide excellent background. If students read about these techniques at the FBI prior to playing the animations, they should be well prepared to complete the worksheets. Visit these sites prior to assigning this lesson to your students. If you feel the information is too difficult for them, plan want to walk them through it step-by-step and elaborate as you go. You can either accomplish this alone with a projector or in a computer lab environment.


The animations require Shockwave and Realplayer. To check your system and download Shockwave and Realplayer go to the DNA Learning Center and click on DNA from the Beginning. On this page, you can click to check software and also download Shockwave and Realplayer for free.


Activity 1

  • Review of DNA extraction, PCR, and cycle sequencing from the FBI = 1 period.
  • Visit animation sites, complete worksheets 1a and 1b = 1 period.

Activity 2

  • Analyze nucleotide sequence = 1 day
  • Written report = 1 day. Obviously, more time would be needed if you expecte students to present their findings in a multi-media format.

Activity 3

  • Decode nucleotide sequences and answer questions = 1 day


Students should copy each nucleotide sequence before entering the data base. At the Blast search page, the sequence can be pasted into the data entry box. Click "Search," then "Format Results." Students will then scroll down the results page. The results will show the nucleotide matches--both species and protein information is give. Students should analyze these results and draw conclusions based on the data provided.


  • Challenge students to figure out the three-dimensional structure of the proteins by entering the protein sequence into a data base. Protein data bases require a 1-letter code for each sequence. Have them determine the code, enter it into a data base, and view the results.
  • Students could produce a skit or a movie that depicts a possible scenario as to how the evidence came into existence.
  • You could conduct a class discussion or a debate regarding the origin of the evidence.

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Sky Anderson
Date Last Modified: 8/29/99