Idea Bank: Demonstrating the Self-Assembly of the Cell Membraneby: Gary Gaulin

Journal Article

Although the cell membrane is a complex structure, its basic form, and the self-organizing behavior of the molecules that produce it, can be easily simulated in a high school science classroom. One such simulation, described in this article, uses oil, water, and the cell membrane-forming molecules (phospholipids) of egg yolk. The demonstration allows students to observe the self-assembly of phospholipid membranes around oil and water droplets, which shows how easily polar forces help construct then hold together the cell membranes in living organisms.

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Reviews (2)
  • on Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:43 AM

This article describes a demo that uses a chicken egg yolk to understand the self-assembly of a cell. All steps of this demo are presented with simple and effective illustrations also included so students can get a better understanding of the concept.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Tue May 05, 2015 10:02 PM

This article helps future educators see how one can help young students see structures that cannot be visualized easily. The egg yolk demonstration is a great tool to use in the classroom with explicit, step-by-step directions and it would be easy to implement in the classroom. This article explains how the cell membrane functions with the polarity of the phospholipids and demonstrates this idea using the egg yolk demonstration. This demonstration would be great in the classroom to help students see the function of cell membranes and to see how the cell interacts with other substances.

Katie Vaughn
Katie Vaughn

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