In this project created by Ella and Samantha, members of the Rosie Innovators STEM program for young women in high school, you will create your own DNA strand out of candy to learn more about DNA structures! Using a template (see below), you’ll organize different colors of candy to create DNA base pairs (adenine with thymine and cytosine with guanine) and connect them with toothpick hydrogen bonds and a twizzler backbone.

DNA is a material in all living things that codes for different traits. The two different pairs of colors that you’ll pair in the DNA models represent different base pairs that make up your DNA. These are like puzzle pieces – as one piece always pairs with another in a puzzle, so does DNA. In these models, just like DNA, in the real world, adenine always pairs with thymine and guanine always pairs with cytosine!

Now that you know about DNA and what makes up its structure, it is time to make your own DNA model out of candy! Gather the materials listed to the right, print out the DNA template, and follow the instructions below!

Required Materials

  • 1 plate
  • 8-10 toothpicks
  • 2 Twizzlers
  • 8 gum drops
  • 1 DNA template
  • hand wipes

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1

Gather the toothpicks, two twizzlers, and gumdrops. Place the DNA Template on your plate.

Step 2

Sort the gumdrops by color on your template.

Step 3

Start by putting a toothpick into one side of the twizzler.

Step 4

Put a pair of gumdrops on that toothpick.

Step 5

Repeat this with the rest of the toothpicks and gumdrops.

Step 6

Attach the second twizzler to the other side of all of the toothpicks

Step 7

If you want a challenge, twist your twizzlers to create a double helix shape!

Women in STEM

Resource 1

Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin was a key pioneer in the study of the structure of DNA. She was one of very few females in the field, and discovered in the early 1950s that DNA exists in the form of a helix, which is its characteristic spiral shape. Despite Franklin’s discovery, James Watson and Francis Crick are often credited with establishing the double helix structure of DNA. Franklin also contributed to the better understanding of the the structure of viruses, helping to lay the groundwork for the field of virology. Overall, Rosalind was a hard worker, and went on to publish six scientific papers even while battling ovarian cancer.

Resource 2

This project was created by a team of two Rosie Innovators – Ella and Samantha!

Ella is a sophomore at Oakton High School. She’s drawn to STEM because, as she puts it, “whether it’s finding cures for diseases or creating new technology, science has so much application in the real world. It constantly brings new advancements and understandings!”

Samantha is a sophomore at Meridian High School. She is especially interested in biology because it includes numerous opportunities for medical advancements that could improve people’s lives and opens the door to information that increases our knowledge about the world we live in.