This classroom activity can be used to familiarize students with basic cell structure and encourage them to think about how the membrane system of eukaryotes works.
The exercise should be done after the class has been instructed in eukaryotic cell structure and function. Following the lecture material with this simple, low cost exercise, helps to transform teaching of eukaryotic cell structure from a passive learning experience into an active, group activity that engages students and fosters cooperation.
* Preparing for Eukaryotic Cell Class Project *
Divide the class into small groups of no more than 4 students each. The members of each group will be working together on the project. They should not have access to their textbook during the activity. If some students have forgotten the location or function of certain components of the cell, their group mates or the instructor can facilitate.
This is a two part activity. For the first part of the project, each group will be creating a eukaryotic cell, either by building a 3-D model or drawing a cell on a large piece of paper.
For the second part of the project, students will need to depict the creation and fate of two lipopeptides. One will be shipped out of the cell using the endomembrane system. The other lipopeptide is defective. So the students must depict the cell activities that would result in destruction of the faulty lipopeptide.
* Part I: Creating a Eukaryotic Cell *
Depending on the amount to time available, this exercise can be done one of two ways. The basic objective is to have the students demonstrate their understanding of eukaryotic cell structure by creating a cell that has all parts and organelles labeled and in their proper location.
If the class has at least 50 minutes to an hour, it can be useful to have them build half of a eukaryotic cell as a three dimensional cross-section. The instructor can provide any combination of materials. Students are typically very creative and can put a surprising variety of items to use in representing parts of the cell.
If there is less time available, each group can cooperatively draw a cell using pencils, crayons and a large piece of paper.
Using the materials provided, create a cell that includes the following structures:
* plasma membrane
* rough endoplasmic reticulum
* smooth endoplasmic reticulum
* Golgi apparatus
Label each structure and include a brief description of its role in the cell (what it does). Do not use your textbook. If you have a question, discuss with group members or instructor.
* Part II: Function of the Membrane System of a Eukaryotic Cell *
For the second part of this exercise is designed to get the students thinking about how materials are moved into, out of, and within the cell using the endomembrane system.
Draw the progress of 2 lipopeptides, showing is journey of the molecule from:
1. where the protein is created (remember, the nucleus has the instructions for making protein and the ribosomes are where proteins are built)
2. to the organelle that processes and ships the protein
3. to the organelle that adds the lipid to the protein
4. to the ultimate fate of each molecule
One of the lipopeptides will be shipped out of the cell. The other is defective. You need to show how it is destroyed by the cell. In essence, "tell the story" of the making, processing, shipping, and, for one lipopeptide, the destruction of a defective molecule.