How Do You Make a DNA Model Using Pipe Cleaners?

To make a DNA model using pipe cleaners, use two different-colored pipe cleaners cut into short lengths, then attach them to the longer pipe cleaners to make a ladder; twist this ladder to make the double-helix. The process takes approximately 30 minutes.

  1. Cut the pipe cleaners

    Choose two colors for the bases and two colors for the polynucleotide strands. Cut the pipe cleaners for the base into approximately 3 1/2 inches. For a 2-foot-long DNA model with the bases 2 inches apart, you need at least 12 base pieces.

  2. Attach the bases to the strands

    Make each strand approximately 2 feet long by connecting multiple pipe cleaners. On a flat surface, place the two strands about 3 inches apart. Determine how you want to order the bases by color onto the strands. Lay the bases between the strands, starting at the top and leaving 2 inches of space between each base. Attach the ends of each base to the strands by wrapping the ends around the strands.

  3. Finish the DNA model

    To complete the familiar double-helix look of a DNA model, twist the ladder by holding the top with one hand and using your other hand to turn the bottom of the ladder. Carefully rearrange the pipe cleaners to enhance the shape.