This activity involves students in creating organelles to scale for a Giant Plant Cell (approximately 3 meters on each side) made out of clear plastic painter's drop cloths and inflated with inexpensive portable fans (see provided instructions for making the big cell). Students use ratios in order to determine how large their organelles should be--a good integration of math into the biology curriculum (student activity included). An excellent hands on Cell activity to help students grasp the basics of how a cell and all the organelle’s function.
Type of Material:
Classroom or lab activity.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
No specific objectives listed. However, through the exercise students will:
Create a scale model of a cell
Apply math to biology
Develop a sense of the actual size of organelles relative to the cell.
Target Student Population:
High school or undergraduate biology.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Some basic math skills and enough biology to understand the parts of a cell.
Evaluation and Observation
All content is accurate and uses appropriate vocabulary
Data on organelle size is provided
The activity is clearly and completely described
The activity could benefit from integration into a larger program of biology investigation or connection to other aspects of cell biology, such as microscopy
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The activity incorporates critical thinking and problem-solving and is conceptual rather than fact based
The activity is hands-on, very good for kinesthetic learners
Examples, including photos, are provided
A rubric, instructions for constructing the cell, suggested activities and a template for student work sheets are provided
Examples or suggestions for additional assignments would make this activity more useful to instructors
Questions based on the activity would greatly improve the effectiveness
Since the activity is so much work for the instructor, suggestions for additional uses of the giant cell might improve the potential attractiveness of this activity for instructors
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The instructions, including diagrams, are all clear and easy to follow
The site is a static web page and so is easy to navigate
The text is well written
Only one example of a student built-organelle is provided; potential materials and ideas for organelle construction might be useful
Other Issues and Comments:
The actual cell size is reported as 30 mm. I believe this is intended to mean micrometers, but the abbreviation is incorrect. (There should also be a space between the unit and the number.)