Explore the structure of DNA and how it is organised into chromosomes.
We have developed a series of clips to explore the Life Fantastic with your students. The pages are intended for use as a prompt to help you prepare when exploring these topics in lessons. Teachers have told us that the videos and questions best suit being used as a topic introduction.
On this page you will find an overview of the topic covered by the clips, a brief summary of each clip, related questions and how the topic links to the curriculum. This is one of eight available resources on developmental biology. For more topics see the teaching resources list.
The material in this resource is supported by video clips from the CHRISTMAS LECTURES 2013.
This resource is suitable for Key Stages 3 and 4 and AS/A2 level. Full curriculum links are given at the bottom of the page.
In this clip from the Royal Institution’s Chromosome series, Aoife McLysaght gives an overview of the chromosomes within our cells. Dr McLysaght explains that though every living thing has DNA, different organisms have slightly different versions of the DNA molecule. DNA contains genes; in the case of humans, 22,000 genes, and these genes are organised onto chromosomes. Aoife illustrates this using plasticine models of the chromosomes and shows how genes, such as amylase, are arranged along the chromosome. The chromosomes themselves are packaged so that they fit within the nucleus, and this contributes a great deal to gene expression. Aoife shows that one advantage of DNA being packaged into chromosomes is during cell division; whether in mitosis or meiosis, the partitioning of DNA into daughter cells is aided by it being arranged in chromosomes.
Running Time: 4 min 20 secs
Alison Woollard demonstrates the structure of DNA with this 2 metre-tall model in a clip from the first CHRISTMAS LECTURE, Where Do I Come From?. Alison describes the double-helix structure, including the sugar-phosphate backbone and nucleotide base pairs.
Running Time: 2 min 17 secs
Conforming to ‘Genetics and Evolution: Inheritance, chromosomes, DNA and genes’, this resource expands on knowledge of chromosomes, genes and DNA. The clips look in detail at the structure of the DNA molecule which may be of interest for advanced level students.
The resource aligns with the discussion of chromosomes and DNA structure requirements in:
The clips provide solid base for the discussion of the structure and genetic storage role of DNA found in:
The resource and clips consider DNA in the context of evolution, and so provide a useful framework for the discussion of the use of DNA in elucidating evolutionary relationships and as evidence for evolution discussed in:
It also provides a background for discussing the triplet genetic code and amino acid sequence, found in the Royal Institution resource, Genes and the genetic code.