This rich digital resource explores the versatile RNA molecule through a highly engaging computer game and short explanatory videos. The game is designed on three levels of increasing complexity, which are unlocked as students correctly perform the tasks below:
Explore the basic structure of RNA and correctly assemble a simple RNA molecule.
Discover how to use chemical bonds to make the molecule “fold” into shapes that can be used in living cells
Build a virus to attack a living cell, and then defend against that attack.
The videos introduce students to the physical function of RNA: how it works in cells to build proteins, store genetic information, and switch genes on and off. The third video poses the question of whether an RNA molecule was the original “building block” that caused life to form on Earth (known as the “RNA Origin of Life” theory.) Teachers: Underlying concepts of chemical bonding and bond energy are effectively introduced without the complex vocabularies that are reserved for high school. Allow 3 full class periods.