This site provides an animation of the action potential, and simple graphic images with a short explanation of each stage.
Type of Material:
Students could be directed to this site in order to see a visualization of the movement of an action potential. Faculty could also use the site in in-class discussions of the action potential.
In order to view the animation, the viewer's browser must be able to support animated graphics. If one does not, however, images of each step of the process (with explanations) are also provided.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
This site provides a visualization of the movement of an action potential and can aid students in understanding how ion movement produces a flow of current down the axon.
Target Student Population:
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
In order to fully benefit from viewing this animation, the student must have a basic understanding of what an action potential is and how it is produced.
Evaluation and Observation
The animation allows for an understanding that cannot be explained with text alone. This is an elegant, yet simple, visualization of the action potential.
There is very little text explaining the animation. Some textual explanation would certainly enhance the value of the site.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This animation offers a visualization of a process that is not easily explained with words.
The animation would work better if it could be slowed down a little. The actual identification of the sodium-potassium pump as the sodium-potassium pump would be beneficial. Its function is discussed, but it is not named.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This animation is simple and clear.
Other Issues and Comments:
It would be great to have more information included on the working of the neuron in such a model, such as the semi-permeability of the membrane, and the fact that it actively maintains resting potential with sodium-potassium pumps. An enhancement illustrating myelinated neurons would be great as well.