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Peer Review

Biology Students and the Giant Plant Cell

by Judith Jones


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Dec 25, 2013 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: 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: In-class activity.
Recommended Uses: Classroom or lab activity.
Technical Requirements: Browser
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

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
  • 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

Rating: 4.75 stars
  • 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

Rating: 4.75 stars
  • 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.)