Make your own decorative DNA Model! (It’s easier than it looks)
Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding, dating back to the 6th century. It’s also the foundation of a branch of mathematics that studies folding patterns, which has applications to genetic research and the study of complex biological systems. Who said art and science don’t mix?
The folding pattern we’re going to follow on this page was adapted from yourgenome.org, and can be printed on normal copy paper.
Download a PDF you can print on your own here:
Color in or add designs to the pattern, or try printing it on fun paper if you’re feeling bold. Be creative! When you’re ready, follow the steps below to fold your own DNA model, making sure that you are making crisp, clean folds.
1 – Getting Started
Cut out the pattern carefully along the bold outside edges. Once you’re done, make a horizontal mountain fold along the bold midline, doubling over the paper so the lines are visible.
2 – Making the vertical folds
Staring at one end, make 10 mountain folds along the bold vertical lines. After each fold, relax the paper and move to the next fold. The model should curl up loosely as shown.
3 – Making the diagonal folds
Flip the model over, and starting at one end, make diagonal mountain folds along the 11 bold diagonal lines. Just like you did in Step 2, relax the paper after each fold and move to the next diagonal line. The model should twist into a loose helix as shown.
4 – Fold in the edge flaps
Carefully fold the two lettered edge flaps in lengthwise, making mountain folds along the bold lines so the letters are visible.
5 – Squish the Model
Now we’re going to squish the model along all the vertical and diagonal folds we made in steps 2 & 3. Starting at one end, use ALL the vertical and diagonal folds you have created to carefully fold up the model like a concertina. It should fold into a flat octagonal shape as shown.
5 – Finish the Model
Gently unfurl the model and straighten the edges, running your fingernail or fingertips slowly along the edge flaps to uncrease them. You now have a DNA origami model!