Teaching With Toys and Analogies


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Presentation I gave about how I incorporate common toys into lecture to convey complex concepts to students in introductory biology. These are a few of my favorites.

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  • Presentation given on 11/9/07 in Columbus, Ohio in a workshop sponsored by WH Freeman Publishers and Sinauer Associates.
  • Teaching With Toys and Analogies

    1. 1. Teaching with Toys and Analogies <ul><li>Jacalyn Newman, Ph.D. </li></ul><ul><li>Department of Biological Sciences </li></ul><ul><li>University of Pittsburgh </li></ul>
    2. 2. Foundations 1 & 2 <ul><li>Introductory biology course </li></ul><ul><li>2 semester sequence, C or better required to take part 2 </li></ul><ul><li>All sections curve mean to 75% (C) </li></ul><ul><li>Lab is a separate class! Not all students take lab </li></ul>
    3. 3. Foundations 1 & 2 <ul><li>Mostly freshman, undeclared majors ~ 1,500 students per term </li></ul><ul><ul><li>multiple sections 200-350/section </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Serves future biomajors, pre-X majors, gen. ed. science requirement for non-majors </li></ul><ul><li>4 midterm MC exams, 45 Q in 50 min. Drop lowest </li></ul><ul><li>Cumulative 50 Q final. </li></ul>
    4. 4. L9 Clapp <ul><li>Seats 409 students </li></ul><ul><li>Multimedia (overhead, projector, VCR, DVD player) </li></ul><ul><li>No sink, gas line, vacuum line </li></ul><ul><li>Nearly continuous use during the day </li></ul><ul><li>10 minutes for class changes </li></ul>
    5. 8. Why toys and analogies? <ul><li>Compensate for constraints: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>lack of lab, stadium seating, large class, inability to do real world demos </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Make the invisible visible </li></ul><ul><li>Bridge between their experience and new information </li></ul><ul><li>Bring fun into learning </li></ul>
    6. 9. My personal favorites <ul><li>Cell signaling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>bubbles, balloons, and Mousetrap® </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Macromolecules </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Barrel of monkeys®, pop beads, quick links </li></ul></ul><ul><li>City of a Cell </li></ul><ul><li>Country wide defense - Immune system </li></ul>
    7. 10. Bubbles for paracrine signaling <ul><li>Plant a student in the back of the room. Start blowing bubbles once we start topic of cell signaling </li></ul><ul><li>Local reaction, other students are unaware b/c too far away </li></ul>
    8. 11. Balloons for endocrine signaling <ul><li>Blow up 4-5 balloons </li></ul><ul><li>Send into class, tell them to share and keep them moving. </li></ul><ul><li>Get attention, put up an overhead: </li></ul>
    9. 12. <ul><li>If you made contact with a balloon: …and skipped breakfast this morning: stand up …and you’re left handed: stand and face the back of the room …and are bilingual: raise your hand </li></ul>
    10. 13. <ul><li>C ontact with a balloon- ONE SIGNAL </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Receptor 1 skipped breakfast </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Response 1 stand up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Receptor 2 left handed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Response 2 stand and face the back </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Receptor 3 bilingual </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Response 3 raise your hand </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No Receptor- No Response! </li></ul>
    11. 14. The 4 stages of cell signaling <ul><li>Receive Signal - Someone called 911 to report a fire </li></ul><ul><li>Transduce - Sirens go off, firefighters get trucks, go to house </li></ul><ul><li>Respond - put out the fire </li></ul><ul><li>Reset - clean up, go back to station in prep for next call </li></ul>
    12. 15. Cell signaling is Mousetrap <ul><li>Receive - mouse lands on cheese, other lands on “turn crank” </li></ul><ul><li>Transduce - everything from turn crank up to cage dropping </li></ul><ul><li>Repond - trap the mouse! </li></ul><ul><li>Reset - put everything back into ready mode </li></ul>
    13. 16. Macromolecules <ul><li>Bonds via dehydration reactions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>monomer concept </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>monomer orientation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>number of bonds to make a polymer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Barrel of monkeys + sharpie marker, pop beads, Quick links </li></ul>
    14. 17. Cellulose vs Starch ...and the diagram of celllulose’s structure here I put the textbook diagram of starch (linear chain) here...
    15. 18. Protein Structure <ul><li>Primary doesn’t change when you twist, coil, or zigzag the chain. </li></ul><ul><li>Models for secondary structure </li></ul><ul><li>Models plus quick links for tertiary and quaternary structure </li></ul>
    16. 19. The city of the cell part 1 City Cell Government Nucleus City limits Plasma membrane Structure i.e. Buildings, roads cytoskeleton Recycling/ trash lysosomes, export to blood Power plants Mitochondria, chloroplasts Communications Signal transduction Transportation microtubules, vesicles
    17. 20. The city of the cell part 2 City Cell Manufacturing Ribosomes Maintenance Proteins Good neighbor relations Intercellular junctions, extra cellular matrix Police/ anti-Crime Chaperonins, Lysosomes Imports/exports Vesicles, endocytosis, exocytosis, secretion
    18. 21. Country Defense A.K.A. The Immune System Nonspecific Defense Nonspecific Defense Specific defense mechanisms of the immune system First line defenses: skin, mucous membranes, secretions Second line defenses: complement proteins, inflammatory response Third line defenses: B & T cells Canadian border Local police FBI