Overview

In this activity, the instructor builds an alien cell out of different materials (see pdf) that resemble the organelles and compartments of a normal, plant cell. The instructor brings the alien cell to class and gets students to investigate what kind of cell it is.
The instructor dissects the alien cell while one student films what is happening up close. The video is projected onto a white board so that the whole class can see.
Students participate by sharing their cell knowledge with the class. Together, the class deduces what organelles are present in the alien cell and how they ...

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In this activity, the instructor builds an alien cell out of different materials (see pdf) that resemble the organelles and compartments of a normal, plant cell. The instructor brings the alien cell to class and gets students to investigate what kind of cell it is.
The instructor dissects the alien cell while one student films what is happening up close. The video is projected onto a white board so that the whole class can see.
Students participate by sharing their cell knowledge with the class. Together, the class deduces what organelles are present in the alien cell and how they function, and compare them to the organelles of a normal plant cell.

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Objectives

Students apply their knowledge of normal “terrestrial” cells to a new scenario (an alien cell), and learn to recognize cellular components based off of their location in the cell, or by their morphology or function.

Students also practice working as a team.

Context and requirements

Level Grade 12-U0
Discipline Biology
Activity Content Cellular components
Technological Requirements Video camera or smartphone with adaptor, project, whiteboard or screen
Best Use Practice

Author’s Notes

Benefits

Students really enjoy this activity because of its tactile nature. The fact that the dissection occurs in ‘real time’ before them makes them feel like they are really part of the process and encourages them to participate in the dissection.

Challenges

Not really any in-class challenges. The challenges of this activity lie building the alien cell. Instructors need to make sure to follow the instructions carefully, especially in cutting up the grapefruit for the nucleus.

Tips

This activity works best as participation rather than calling on students to answer specific questions. It creates a more inclusive environment that naturally encourages students to participate.

Activity Pedagogical Components

Demonstration

Students are shown different components of the alien cell and are asked to identify what they are, based on their knowledge of normal, ‘terrestrial’ cellular components.

Discussion

Students discuss as a class to decide if they’ve correctly identified the alien cellular components.

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