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The model
The model
The model

Press Release - 17 August 2006

Simple model could hold key to teaching DNA to all age groups

A simple model dreamt up by a Bath academic working on his kitchen table could be the key to teaching people of all ages about DNA, the instruction book for life.

Dr Jonathan Cox built a cardboard model of a DNA molecule in his spare time because he had become frustrated at not finding a good model in museum shops.

Dr Cox, of the University of Bath’s Department of Chemistry, has now had the model made in brightly coloured plastic blocks.

The blocks are designed such that even a six-year- old could piece them together to make the familiar spiral staircase structure of DNA. Magnets hidden in the blocks hold the model together.

The coloured blocks can be arranged in any imaginable sequence to show how DNA can store enormous amounts of information. The spiral structure can also be unwound by hand, and two new models built, to demonstrate how DNA is copied when a cell splits in two.

There are other models for teachers, but Dr Cox believes this particular one would have broad appeal, from primary school to undergraduate level. He is looking for commercial companies to manufacture the model for teachers, lecturers and museums across the world.

Dr Cox has written an article for the Journal of Chemical Education which is published this week online.

“The model could be made small enough for use on a desk,” said Dr Cox, “but could also be made large enough for children to climb over in a park or a museum.

“It is versatile enough to appeal to a small child but also be instructive for undergraduates, and I believe it’s this range that would make an excellent educational aid and a viable commercial enterprise.”


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