Molecular biology topics tend to be abstract and hard to visualize, and consequently pupils form many misconceptions about genetics and molecular biology. We describe how to make a hands-on educational set that provides visual and tactile modeling of DNA replication, transcription, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and random mutations so that students can examine these processes in detail. The set is inexpensive and easy to make, has been used successfully, and allows for modification to fit individual teachers' needs.
To involve students in thinking about the problem of AIDS (which is important in the view of nondecreasing infection rates), we established a practical lab using a simplified adaptation of Thomas’s (2004) method to determine the polymorphism of HIV co-receptor CCR5 from students’ own epithelial cells. CCR5 is a receptor involved in inflammatory processes, which has been misused by some pathogens, including HIV, to enter host cells. As a result, a defective allele CCR5-Δ32 has been enriched in some populations. The interesting story and hands-on work with their own tissue absorbed students in this 2-hour practical.