How to Make a Double Helix Out of Pipe Cleaners

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A double helix is a twisted ladder type structure that simulates the shape of DNA. Make a double helix model for illustration purposes from pipe cleaners. School age children may appreciate a hands-on approach to learning if you allow them to create their own double helix shapes. Add different colored pony beads to each rung to illustrate the organic bases of DNA. Build the double helix side rails with beaded or plain pipe cleaners, depending on the purpose of the craft.

Things You'll Need

  • 3 pipe cleaners
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Round nose pliers
  • Pencil
  • Cut one of the pipe cleaners into two-inch long strips. Bend the ends of each strip into a hook with round nose pliers.

  • Lay the other two pipe cleaners vertically, side by side. Connect the top of the two pipe cleaners with one of the two-inch long strands placed horizontally between them. Hook the ends of the two-inch long strip to each of the vertical pipe cleaners.

  • Press the hooks at the end of the horizontal pipe cleaner around the vertical pipe cleaners with the pliers to secure the ladder rung in place.

  • Repeat Steps 2 and 3 to connect the bottom of the vertical pipe cleaners.

  • Repeat Steps 2 and 3 to connect the remaining two-inch strips along the length of the vertical pipe cleaners. Space the strips evenly between the top and the bottom strip. When all of the rungs are added, the basic double helix structure is complete.

  • Wrap the double helix structure around a pencil. Remove the pencil and stretch the double helix twist to the desired shape.

Tips & Warnings

  • To add pony beads to the double helix, add beads to the two-inch long strips before hooking them to the vertical pipe cleaners. Add the beaded strip across the top or the bottom, then add beads to the vertical pipe cleaners up to the next horizontal rung. Continue to add beads and horizontal rungs for the length of the vertical pipe cleaners. Twist the beaded double helix the same way as a plain double helix.

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References

  • Photo Credit dna image by Allyson Ricketts from Fotolia.com
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