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Showing Pam Vaughan

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9-12 | Science & Tech | Hands on activities

My Classroom Innovation

Some people may view room 203 as merely a classroom. A warning sign posted outside hints of what is to come. This is no ordinary classroom. When you walk into the classroom, you are stepping into the lesson. At the door a student labeled as the plasma membrane blocks your entrance. You cannot enter until another student grants nuclear permission for your admittance. Students are labeled as organelles and are role-playing different tasks using props. The chloroplast is cooking. The ribosome is making protein repairs. This is no ordinary classroom; in fact, you have just entered a functioning plant cell. If you behave, the lysosomes will not break you down. Teacher-created organelles are labeled and strategically suspended so that students associate location with analogy function. The mitochondrion is located by the light switch because the switch represents turning on energy, and the vacuole is above the trash can. Inspired by PBS Cellular Structure and Function, “Honey I shrunk the classroom” is an analogy used throughout the year to enhance student understanding of cellular function and process such as protein synthesis, transport, photosynthesis, and respiration. What exactly goes on in room 203? Learning.

How Students were Engaged

A college freshman posted: “I was helping someone with Biology homework. I immediately thought about that game we played...When the Classroom was the cell and each person had a specific part of the cell. THANKS ALOT!” Following this post, I was amazed at the number of responses. The innovation of “shrinking” the classroom” definitely engaged students. Not only have related scores been higher, but also it spurned further learning. NASA nationally recognized over fifty of these “shrunken” high school students for their biological studies. Two served as NASA Phoenix Student Interns who participated in the search for life on Mars.

PBS Program/Content Used

Gallery of Cells Nucleus, Cytoplasm, Membrane Organelles in the Cytoplasm