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Biological Balderdash

Time Frame:
1 class period that runs 60 minutes.

Group Size:
Small Groups


In this fun activity to introduce students to the vocabulary of protein synthesis the students will play “Balderdash.” They will then demonstrate their knowledge by passing a short quiz.

Main Curriculum Tie:
Science - Biology
Standard 4 Objective 3

Explain how the structure and replication of DNA are essential to heredity and protein synthesis.


  • paper and pencils
  • overhead projector
  • transparency

Instructional Procedures:

  1. Divide students up into groups of 4
  2. Tell each group to get out a sheet of paper and tear it into 8 pieces. The group should write their group name or number on each piece of paper.
  3. Explain to the students that they will be playing “Balderdash” as a class. The rules are as follows:
    • You will give them an unfamiliar word. Say the word and then spell it.
    • Each group should write the word on a piece of torn paper (1 per group). They will then have 2 minutes to come up with a “definition” of the word and write it on the paper. And then give the paper to you
    • You will then read all definitions to the class.
    • Each group will cast a vote for the student definition that they think will best match the teachers’ definition.
    • The teacher will write the correct definition on the overhead from notes or have the transparency already prepared.
    • Scoring is as follows: 2 points for voting for the correct definition, 1 point per vote by another group for your definition, 3 points for writing the correct definition. Have students keep their own score.
    • At the end of 6 rounds the winners will receive extra points.
  4. Do an example with the students first. Use the word “moppet” or use a card from the real “Balderdash” if you own the game. “Moppet” is the word used by in England for a small child.
  5. Remind the students that the words they will be using have to do with DNA, genetics, and the making of proteins.
  6. Begin the game. The following are words that could be used, you may want to restate them to make them less obvious (not teacher language):
    Codon: 3 nucleotides in a row
    Replication- DNA makes copies of itself
    Transcription: copies of DNA are made in the nucleus by mRNA
    Mutation: a change in DNA
    tRNA: transfer RNA which brings amino acids to the ribosome
    mRNA: messenger RNA which is a copy of DNA that leaves the nucleus of a cell
    Translation: the process of assembling a protein from the copy of DNA carried by mRNA
    Amino Acid-molecules found in cells from which proteins are formed.
    Ribosome-location of protein formation, contains rRNA
    Protein-Molecules which control cell functions and structure
  7. If you want you can throw in fun words every few rounds.
  8. After you have completed all the words have each student get out a sheet of paper and write down all ten vocabulary words and their definitions. Allow students to work together on this.
  9. Give students a quiz. They should choose 4 words and define them without using their notes.

Assessment Plan:
Scoring Guide:
Vocabulary Page...........................11 points
Quiz.............................................8 points
Participation.................................6 points
Total...............................25 points

Lesson Design by Jordan School District Teachers and Staff.

Utah LessonPlans

Created Date :
Dec 03 2014 11:39 AM