Activity Number
Not Editable
Overview and Learning Objectives
Central Concepts
Textbook References
Benchmarks and Standards
Activity Credits

Template-Based Synthesis: PCR

Interactive, scaffolded model

Activity Screenshot

Launch Activity

This Activity Requires:

      Test your system to see if it meets the requirements

Important! If you cannot launch anything from this database, please follow the step-by-step instructions on the software page.

Please Note: Many models are linked to directly from within the database. When an activity employs our scripting language, Pedagogica, as do some of the "guided" activities, the initial download may take several minutes. Subsequent activities will not take a long time. See this page for further instructions.

Overview and Learning Objectives

Students learn that it is difficult, if not practically impossible, for organisms to create a polymer without some guiding template molecule. DNA is then discussed as an example and the basics of DNA replication are explored. Finally, students learn how the natural mechanism of DNA replication can be used to amplify small amounts of DNA using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) procedure.

Students will be able to:

  • demonstrate how using a template is an efficient way to create a molecule of specific sequence;
  • discuss the basic mechanism of how DNA replicates;
  • apply their knowledge of DNA replication to the Polymerase Chain Reaction procedure.

return to top


You can also use Molecular Workbench to enter and send your assessment:

return to top

Central Concepts

Key Concept:

Using DNA's capacity to make many copies of itself, the laboratory procedure Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) replicates DNA samples for forensics and drug development.

Additional Related Concepts


  • Genetics

Molecular Biology

  • Coding
  • DNA
  • Nucleic Acid
  • Template-based synthesis

return to top

Textbook References

  • Biology (Prentice-Hall) New York Edition - Chapter 12: DNA and RNA
  • Biology: Concepts and Connections (Pearson) 5th Edition - Chapter 10: Molecular Biology of the Gene
  • Biology: Concepts and Connections (Pearson) 5th Edition - Chapter 11: The Control of Gene Expression
  • Biology: Exploring Life - Chapter 9: The Cellular Basis of Inheritance
  • Biology: The Dynamics of Life - Chapter 13: Genetic Technology
  • BSCS Blue (8th Edition) - Advances in Molecular Genetics
  • Web of Life - Chapter 7: DNA, Genes and Chromosomes

return to top

Benchmarks and Standards


  • COMMON THEMES: Systems - The successful operation of a designed system usually involves feedback (Full Text of Standard)

  • THE LIVING ENVIRONMENT: CELLS - The genetic information encoded in DNA molecules provides instructions for assembling protein molecules (Full Text of Standard)


  • Science as Inquiry: 3 Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications (Full Text of Standard)

  • Science as Inquiry: 4 Formulate and revise scientific explanations and models (Full Text of Standard)

  • Science as Inquiry: 5 Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and models (Full Text of Standard)

return to top

Activity Credits

Created by CC Project: Molecular Workbench using Flash and Molecular Workbench + Pedagogica

return to top


return to top

NSF Logo
These materials are based upon work supported
by the National Science Foundation under grant numbers
9980620, ESI-0242701, EIA-0219345, DUE-0402553, and 0628181.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this
material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect
the views of the National Science Foundation.