Do you ever have those “Why didn’t I think of that before” moments?
We just finished our unit on the cell and cellular transport in my freshman biology classes. We discussed all the typical things of the unit, including types of cells, eukaryotic organelles and how they are used in the cell to make products, passive and active transport, etc. I showed them the amazing video by XVIVO called “The Inner Life of a Cell” and narrated parts of it for them. (I highly recommend this, by the way. The students love the music and are big fans of the kinesin protein carrying the vesicle across the microtubule. They are still talking about it 2 weeks later. It really helps them picture how a cell is constantly working and isn’t just a static 2D picture like they see in their textbooks.)
Even though we watched this a few times and I pointed out the microfilaments and microtubules to them, they still had difficulty remembering the function of the cytoskeleton when we reviewed the day before our test. One of our activities during the unit was to color and name the functions of the organelles in an animal and plant cell (found from Massengale’s Biology Junction site). In many sketches of cells, the microtubules and microfilaments are just shown as long strands, sometimes crossed or overlapping each other. I realized during review that the students were having a hard time connecting that image to what they knew about the cytoskeleton (helping to give the cell structure and shape, used as tracks for transporting things, etc).
My co-worker told the students during the review session, “Think of when houses are being built. You see the framework for a while of all the boards, but eventually it’s covered up with the sheet rock and everything else. They can’t show all of that in a drawing of a cell just like you wouldn’t see all of that in a drawing or picture of a house.” Ok, so it isn’t a perfect analogy, but it did the trick. You could almost see their confusion dissipate.
And I was just left thinking, “Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?” 🙂 Maybe that simple analogy will help someone else.