Using the Human Genome to Work with String Methods

Overview & Concepts

Have your students work with String methods in this real world application of the Human Genome for DNA sequencings.

Grade Level: 

Concepts Covered: 

String methods; DNA and RNA replication and translation 

Prior Knowledge Required: 

basic java knowledge of input and output; basic biological knowledge of DNA replication 

Activity Notes

Days to Teach: 

5 Days


  • Computers
  • Note sheets on String methods
  • Note sheets on DNA and RNA verification and replication
  • Worksheet on Strings 

Teaching Tips / Activity Overview: 

Day 1: Students will be able to use and code with String methods in Java

  1. Teacher presentation of String methods.
  2. Student modeling of String methods on board. 
  3. Students code on computers with String methods.  
  4. Review sheet of String methods hand out. 
  5. Worksheet on string method

Day 2: Students will be able to explain the basic process by which DNA is replicated.

  1. Teacher presentation and discussion of DNA, and RNA.
  2. Review sheet of DNA and RNA information hand out (page 1).  
  3. Students verify and transcribe DNA sequence into RNA sequence by hand.

Day 3: Students will be able to use String methods to verify and transcribe DNA sequences.

  1. Discussion of how we can use the computer to do what we have just done by hand (verify and transcribe DNA sequences).
  2. Why we would want a computer to do this?  (The size and complexity of Chromosomal DNA sequences and their variety)  
  3. Review sheet of DNA and RNA information hand out (page 2).
  4. Turn students loose on individual computers to try their hand at programming.

Day 4 & 5 

  1. More work individually on computers.
  2. If students get done early show them real chromosome sequences from the web and show transcriptions thereof.   
  3. Have them choose one or two of these to test with the programs which they wrote.    
  4. Review sheet of DNA and RNA information hand out (page 3).


  • worksheet on String methods
  • verification and transcription of DNA sequence
  • computer programs 


  • Take students to web site with more complex DNA sequences and have them select a few to test on the program they wrote.
  • Have the students translate the DNA into RNA.  (Change all "T" into "U")  
  • Later in the year (after introducing ArrayLists): Have the students divide the RNA sequences innto triples, store them into an ArrayList, and translate these into the amino acids which they represent. 


These teacher notes and resources were produced by Dee Endicott. 

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