Lightning MCAS Review: Cells and their Organelles

Cell City!

In this week’s lesson we reviewed information students covered in 7th grade:  all about cells, the microscopic units that are the building blocks of all living things. Students discussed the size of cells and investigated all the microscopic parts or “organelles” that have important jobs within each cell.  They then had a chance to show off their knowledge and build their own cell models.  Groups competed to see which team could complete their model first.   In order to earn organelles for their models, groups had to successfully answer instructors’ questions.   They then received that part or their model (eg. plastic bag for cell membrane; ping pong ball for nucleus). Their favorite parts of the model were the artificial snow that represented the cytoplasm and the miniature pigs representing lysosomes!

This was an interactive way for students to refresh their memories about cell structure.  The analogy of the cell as a city helped students think about the function of each organelle. Each organelle within an animal and plant cell was related to things that are important to maintain a well-functioning city (eg. nucleus was city hall as it is the “planner” of the cell and mitochondria are the power plants).  By the end of the lesson, everybody had a complete cell model, and a better understanding of the inner workings of the cell!

 

Author

Dr. Catherine Sukow

Dr. Sukow's interest in science education began when she was a teenager, with an extended visit to San Francisco's Exploratorium. In college, she had summer jobs in a similar, smaller, museum. She focused her Master's research at NCSU on the structure of metal silicides on silicon, and her Ph. D. work at Brandeis on the structure of crossbridged actin bundles. While volunteering in her childrens' schools, she was reminded how much fun it is to teach science, and is happy to be teaching now with Science from Scientists. In her spare time, she also enjoys yoga, choral and solo singing, and attempting a variety of international cuisines.

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