Students compare and contrast passive and active transport by playing a game to model this phenomenon. Movement through cell membranes is also modeled, as well as the structure and movement typical of the fluid mosaic model of the cell membrane. Concentration gradient, sizes, shapes and polarity of molecules determine the method of movement through cell membranes. This activity is associated with the Test your Mettle phase of the legacy cycle.
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- International Technology and Engineering Educators Association: Technology
- O. Refine a design by using prototypes and modeling to ensure quality, efficiency, and productivity of the final product. (Grades 9 - 12)  ...show
- Next Generation Science Standards: Science
- Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms. (Grades 9 - 12)  ...show
- Act as a different particle or part of the cell membrane to model active and passive transport.
- Explain how particles are transported from one side of the cell membrane to the other.
- Explain why engineers use models.
|The movement of substances through the cell membrane that requires energy.|
|The movement of particles through the cell membrane that does not require energy.|
Before the Activity
- Make copies of the Cell Membrane Quiz and Types of Transport Activity Sheet, one each per student.
- Print out the game cards that illustrate ions, molecules and cell membrane members. Hole-punch the cards on the top two corners and tie yarn through each to make placards for each student to wear during the activity, illustrating their roles. Use the pink atoms as potassium or another ion and write the ion element and charge on each. Have students write the charges on the sodium and chlorine atoms. (Tip: To make these cards re-usable, copy them onto card stock and laminate before punching the holes. Dry erase marker wipes off the laminated surface so the blank atoms can be easily changed.)
- Move aside desks and tables to clear a space to conduct the game. Or arrange to go outside or to the gym.
- Give students the activity sheet prior to the activity so they may familiarize themselves with the various types of transport being studied. Also have students review shape and structure of molecules to determine their polarity and method of movement into and out of the cell membranes.
With the Students
- Offer students the stack of game cards, face down, and have them randomly choose their roles in the game by choosing a card. Have them place the placards around their necks so everyone knows their roles in the game.
- Direct students who have drawn similar cards to group together to talk about their strategy for movement into the cell membrane. Suggest they look over the activity sheet to review what type of transport they are able to participate in each time. Likewise, have members of the lipid bilayer and the proteins discuss placement of their proteins within the membrane.
- Begin the game by announcing which transport type will be illustrated. Similar to playing "Red Rover," the particles try to enter the cell and still be aware of the dynamic equilibrium that takes place in conjunction with the concentration gradient. Have the cell membrane hold hands so as to be "fluid" enough for small particles such as water, carbon dioxide and oxygen gas to enter and exit the cell at will, while charged particles must enter and exit the cell only through their specific channel proteins. Have the channel proteins announce which specific ion they allow to enter and exit. Have the carrier proteins also announce their specific molecule, such as glucose or amino acids.
- Periodically stop to discuss what the students are modeling. Transition to new games by summarizing and discussing what happened. Restart new games, announcing different transport types. Periodically allow students to switch roles during the game so that they gain perspective for different parts of the process. Remind students about the concentration gradient and dynamic equilibrium.
- At activity end, administer the quiz.
Melinda M. Higgins
© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2010 Vanderbilt University
VU Bioengineering RET Program, School of Engineering, Vanderbilt University
Last modified: February 10, 2016