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I am home tutoring again after a long break when I was developing textbooks and other educational materials. When I returned to Wyzant, I found all these new features and doodads, including this blog function, so I figured why not tell a story about a previous rewarding tutoring experience? DNA is a long, thin molecule, a polymer, made up of monomers joined together. My student understood that perfectly well. She also understood restriction endonucleases. These are enzymes that cut DNA only at certain recognition sequences. What she didn’t understand is that DNA molecules are objects in the real world, and they behave like similar real objects. That lack of understanding prevented her from answering homework questions about recombinant DNA techniques. Her professor had drawn a loop and a line segment on the blackboard. The loop was a plasmid, a circle of DNA, and the segment was a piece of linear DNA. Next, her professor had drawn two separated hash marks... read more

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