Idea Bank: The Invented Cell by: Daniel M. Levin

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Thoughtful teachers allow students to pursue the relationship between structure and function before learning about particular organelles, usually through an analogy to a factory or some other complex system (Crooks and Sheldon 2005). In this Idea Bank, the author describes a similar approach, “The Invented Cell.” This activity helps students gain important insight into how biologists reason and moves the introduction to cellular biology beyond a collection of seemingly isolated facts about organelles.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:43 PM

Structure and function is a key concept in today’s biology class. This article describes an activity that starts with a classroom discussion (dialog included) followed by students learning about organelles that are assigned to them. The author states that to understand the relationship between structure and function surpasses the need to know the exact name of a structure. The following quote ends this article: “After all, as Henri Poincare wrote, “Science is built up of facts as a house is of stones, but a collection of facts is no more a science than a pile of stones is a house” (1908).

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

  • on Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:05 PM

I love the focus in this activity on really listening to your students. Instead of just telling them what organelles are and what they do, this teacher has students explore the structure, function and mechanisms involved so that they can construct an understanding of the cell. If we don't give them a chance to discuss and talk, we won't see the depth of their understanding (or misunderstanding). Love it!

Wendy R  (Pocatello, ID)
Wendy R (Pocatello, ID)

  • on Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:51 PM

Many teachers relate the physiology of cells to a factory, but in this case, the kids first brainstorm all the functions a cell must carry out, then design organelles to do those jobs. This is a very creative and metacognitive. I wish I had a group of high school students to brainstorm with.

Allison Cooke
Allison Cooke

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