Visual Basic DNA Decoder

Overview & Concepts

Students will write a Visual Basic computer program that can be used to transcribe a DNA codon into
mRNA and then translate the mRNA sequence into the correct amino acid.

Grade Level: 

Concepts Covered: 

Amino acid, codon, DNA, mRNA, protein

Prior Knowledge Required: 

Students must know how to program in Visual Basic.

Activity Notes

Days to Teach: 

Approximately three 45-minute class periods

Materials: 

  • Computers with Visual Basic
  • "DNA Decoder" Project Sheet

Teaching Tips / Activity Overview: 

  1. Introduce the lesson, including the essential questions: How do I write a Visual Basic computer program that can be used to transcribe a DNA codon into mRNA?  How can I then translate the mRNAsequence into the correct amino acid?
  2. Distribute the "DNA Decoder" project sheet.
  3. Students do self-paced project work.  If necessary, allow students to work with a partner.

Assessment: 

  • Oral questioning as students work
  • Evaluation of project upon completion

Extensions: 

  • Modify the DNA codon textbox so the user can enter a longer DNA sequence.
  • Alter code so the mRNA is broken into triplets, which are then translated into amino acids.
  • The Amino Acid picbox should display all of the amino acids present.  Ideally, this picbox should be renamed Protein picbox.

Acknowledgements: 

Carl Bomberger produced this lesson.

Academic Standards
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