The Energy Barrier for a Chocolate-Craving Pregnant Woman

Written by Kelly A. Hogan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

When discussing the energy of activation (EA) related to enzymes, I tell students about when I was pregnant and ate ice cream every night. I explain that after dinner I would sink into my deep, fluffy sofa. When I deemed it ice cream time, it was challenging to get up to get from the sofa with a big belly. I would complain and huff and puff,  etc. But sometimes, my lovely husband would hold his arm out and help to pull me off the sofa. In this analogy, my husband is the enzyme (catalyst) because he lowered the energy barrier for me. However, he didn’t make the impossible happen—I would have gotten that ice cream on my own—he just made it easier and faster for me to be a happy pregnant woman full of ice cream (the product of the reaction).

Using Food and Drink to Describe Osmosis

Written by Jennifer Wiatrowski, Pasco-Hernando Community College

I use two different analogies to relate osmosis to the real world:

a. I use two large beakers (beakers A and B), a jug of water and lemonade mix or fruit punch mix (these are dry powders). I then tell the class I am going to mix two classes of a refreshing beverage (nice in a hot climate like Florida). I tell them that I will make the first beverage very sweet, and pour in a large amount of lemonade or punch mix. The second beverage will not be nearly as sweet and I pour in a small amount of the powder. I then fill each of the beakers to equal volumes. I then ask the class if the two beakers have equivalent solutions. (They say no!). So, although the two beakers appear to have equal volumes, the amount of water is varies between the beakers. This shows students that the amount of water in a given space is influenced by the amount of solute. I then ask the students to imagine connecting the beakers together with a selectively permeable membrane and then ask them which way the water would flow  (from beaker A to B or B to A?)

b. I then talk about Martha Stewart. Martha always says that you should never toss your salad until your guests arrive or you are ready to serve it (I was recently informed by my students that “toss the salad” has taken on additional meaning……so this gets a good laugh out of the class). So, at the beginning of class, I take a bag of salad and some dressing and mix them. I then put it aside for awhile. In the meantime we talk about hypertonic and hypotonic. I then ask to think about the scenario with the salad and the dressing. They eventually reason that the salad is hypotonic to the dressing (or the dressing is hypertonic to the salad) and the consequence of this is a watery salad as the dressing pulls water out of the greens. This would make Martha HORRIFIED.  To finish, we take look at the salad we mixed earlier.

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Title : iBoy
Release : 2017-01-27.
Language : English.
Runtime : 90 min.
Genre : Action, Crime, Science Fiction, Thriller.
Stars : Bill Milner, Maisie Williams, Rory Kinnear, Miranda Richardson, Jordan Bolger, Charley Palmer Rothwell.

After an accident, Tom wakes from a coma to discover that fragments of his smart phone have been embedded in his head, and worse, that returning to normal teenage life is impossible because he has developed a strange set of super powers.

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The Earthquake Richter Scale and the pH Scale

Written by SuEarl McReynolds, Palo Alto College, San Antonio, TX

When discussing how the pH scale is logarithmic and a one number change is equivalent to 10 times as acidic or basic, I ask if they know what the Richter Scale is. Usually several people know that it has to do with measuring earthquake strength. So I ask how much difference they think there would be between earthquakes with a magnitude of 8 and a magnitude of 9. It’s “only one number.” In reality a magnitude 8 can cause serious damage over several hundred miles, but a magnitude 9 can cause devastating damage over several thousand miles. So one number change is a big difference in these kinds of scales.

When I get to buffers, I have a picture in my PowerPoint of a man working on a floor with a big buffering machine. He’s smoothing out the drastic high spots and low spots on the floor, making it more even. Or a person may act as a buffer between two friends with opposite personalities—again making things more smooth, the differences less pronounced—maybe helping the shy one feel freer to express opinions and the loud one less likely to interrupt and dominate the conversation.

Relating Chemical Bonds to Everyday Ideas

Written by SuEarl McReynolds, Palo Alto College, San Antonio, TX

I use several analogies when talking about chemical bonds. I compare them to different kinds of glue. I ask the students if they have a “junk drawer” at home. They smile, and I ask if it’s got some different kinds of glue in it—maybe paper glue, Elmer’s glue, wood glue, Super Glue.  Just like you need different kinds of glue to stick different materials together, you need different kinds of bonds to hold different kinds of atoms together. Probably a lot of people compare the attraction of the oppositely charged ions in an ionic bond to the attraction of the opposite ends of a magnet. Another common analogy probably is to compare the sharing of electrons in covalent bonds to holding hands (as in carbon is an atom that has four hands sticking out to hold with other atoms). Covalent bonds could also be compared to kids who want to play with the same toy. So they set a timer and switch off who gets to play with the toy.

When I talk about polar covalent bonds, which result from an unequal sharing of electrons, such as in the water molecule, I tell this story: “Suppose I come to class with a big chocolate chip cookie. I tell you that I’m feeling generous and am going to share my cookie with you. You anticipate that I’m going to break the cookie in half and keep half and give you half. But that’s not what I do! I really, really like chocolate chip cookies—so I break off a little piece for you and keep most of it for myself! Well, I did share.  I just didn’t share equally!”

When I get to the much weaker hydrogen bonds, I compare them to Post-It notes. I ask the students to visualize some inventor trying to formulate a new kind of Super Glue. He tries a lot of different variations and comes up with something that will hold things together when you want them held together but will release them without tearing them up or using a lot of energy when you want them separated. That’s the kind of adhesive that’s found in Post-It notes. It’s just a good thing he didn’t throw it in the trash because he had started out looking for a new kind of Super Glue! What would we do without Post-It notes? (I usually have one or two on my folders right there.) That’s what hydrogen bonds are like. An example would be the hydrogen bonds holding the two strands of DNA together. The strands need to be reliably held together most of the time, but sometimes they need to separate (of course I haven’t talked about replication or protein synthesis yet). It must happen without tearing the strands up or using an atom bomb’s worth of energy to make it happen. Then sometimes the strands will need to go back together (protein synthesis). That’s why the weak hydrogen bonds are important.

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Director : Mike Flanagan.
Writer : Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel.
Producer : Jason Blum, Trevor Macy.
Release : March 12, 2016
Country : United States of America.
Production Company : Intrepid Pictures, Blumhouse Productions.
Language : English.
Runtime : 81 min.
Genre : Horror, Thriller.

Movie ‘Hush’ was released in March 12, 2016 in genre Horror. Mike Flanagan was directed this movie and starring by Kate Siegel. This movie tell story about A deaf woman is stalked by a psychotic killer in her secluded home.

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The Function of Antibodies and Complement Compared to Chocolate Chips

Written by Kelly A. Hogan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

When explaining how complement or antibodies enhance the innate system’s phagocytes to engulf these coated pathogens, I explain my behavior at a buffet. I may see vanilla cake, plain ice cream, short bread cookies etc. and all of these might taste good if I chose them. However, if my eye catches something with chocolate chips on it, I am immediately drawn to it and choose this to eat.Movie Get Out (2017)

The Immune System as the Body’s Militia

Written by Gidi Shemer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

When discussing the immune system in human physiology, the military is the star of the show. The first line defense (e.g. our skin) can be represented by the physical barriers we have in our borders, defending us from the enemy (e.g. bacteria). The second line of defense (e.g. the phagocytes of the innate immune system) is represented by the soldiers who are found at the front lines. The third defense, the adaptive immune system, our B and T cells, is represented by the elite forces. These elite forces are more expensive, hard to come by, and called to action by the plain soldiers, but they provide modern, selective, and sophisticated tactics to fight the enemy.

The Smell of Fresh Pizza and Cell Movement

Written by Sheri Kuslak, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

When discussing chemokines and chemotaxis of immune cells to an injury site I describe college students’ response to the smell of pizza. For example imagine a classroom containing a dozen freshly baked pizzas being similar to an injury site in the human body. As the smell of pizza (chemokines) wafts through the air into the hallways the students (immune cells) follow the smell to the source (chemotaxis). Once the students (immune cells) find the source they begin eating the pizza (healing the injury through specialized processes). Once the pizza is gone (injury is healed), the pizza smell (chemokines) subsides therefore not drawing in any more students to the classroom (the former injury site).

Media Review: “Learn.Genetics” Genetic Science Learning Center from the University of Utah

Reviewed by Kelly A. Hogan, University of North Carolina

One of the best websites I have seen recently is the Learn.Genetics site from the University of Utah (http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/) I am impressed with the high quality interactive lessons. There are modules including heredity, cell basics, DNA to proteins, natural selection, etc. Some of my favorites are short interactive animation depicting the size of cells. The user controls the ability to zoom in and out starting at the coffee bean/12 pt font size through various cells then macromolecules right down to the carbon atom. My students are really impressed by this when I use it in class. I have also been really impressed with their “virtual labs.” Users get to extract DNA from a cheek cell, including centrifuging and pouring buffers. I have found these virtual labs, like the other modules I have examined, to be much more than entertainment. For example, students learn why they use the chemicals they use to purify DNA. I am impressed with the educational components built into each module. In fact, the companion Teach.Genetics website http://teach.genetics.utah.edu/ is in beta preview and there are numerous high quality lesson plans with activities at various grade levels fitting various science standards. Check it out, but beware, you will lose a lot of time losing yourself in this impressive resource!

Have you used this resource at all? What module?