Pipe Cleaner Mitosis!
How does a cell duplicate itself and its DNA to make more cells?
Act out the following steps below to find out!
4 pipe-cleaners of 2 different colors (which represent the chromosomes)
1 piece of chalk (which will represent the cell membrane)
1 damp rag (which will act as your eraser)
1 dark colored table top
1. Draw a circle of chalk on your desk top that all your pipe cleaners can fit in. Also a
larger circle around it that fills most of your desk space. The larger circle is the -
______________________________ and the smaller circle is the ________________________ of the
2. Place the one of each color of pipe cleaners in the circle. The pipe cleaners represent
3. Now add the matching pipe cleaners into your circle. You are duplicating the
chromosomes, which is the last step of interphase. Above your cell title it
Interphase with your chalk.
4. Pair up the similar colors and twist them together a couple of times in the middle to
make two Xs. These are your sister chromatids in prophase, the first stage of
mitosis! Also, erase parts of your cell membrane to show that it is breaking open.
Erase the previous title and now title your cell with which phase it is in.
5. Completely erase the nucleus. Line up the twisted pipe cleaners along the centerline
of the cell. Your cell is now in metaphase. Re-title your cell.
6. Untwist the pipe cleaners and pull one of each color to opposite ends of your cell.
Title this step anaphase.
7. Redraw your large circle to show that it is beginning to split into two circles at the
centerline and keep the one set of each color pipe cleaner in each end. Title this
8. Redraw your large circle to be split into two circles with one set of pipe-cleaners in
each of the new circles. Title this cytokinesis. This is the final step to make two
1. Why is it important for a cell to duplicate its DNA before it divides in two?
2. If the DNA is duplicated before cell division, does that mean that the DNA in your cheek
cells is the same as the DNA in your heart cells? Why or Why not?
3. A few hairs were found at a crime scene. Scientists were able to extract DNA from the
hairs. A suspect was found and the CSIs wanted to see if the DNA from the scene matched
that of the suspect. How does your understanding of cells and DNA help you to confirm or
deny whether the suspect is actually the criminal?
I cut each pipe cleaner in half to make it more manageable, so each bin had 2 pipe cleaners
of different colors, cut in half to make 2 pipe cleaners of one color and 2 of a different color
If your room has a light colored table tops, use dry erase markers instead. They can be
erased from most desktops (try first, of course).
It is also a good idea to show a video of mitosis first and to have a picture of mitosis at each
table so they can have an idea of what each step should look like.