5 Creative Ways to Teach Animal Cells that Will Get Students Excited

Anjaney Kothari

Animal cells are so fundamental to many branches of biology that everyone who aspires to be in a related field must learn about them. But learning about the structure and composition of different types of animal cells can be an overwhelming experience for students. Various cell organelles build up animal cells, which are themselves the building blocks of different tissues in the body.

To address this complexity, educators must devise new teaching methods that make animal cells an easier and more exciting topic. Here, we list five ways to teach the building blocks of animal cells that will get students excited.

1. Engage Students with Interactive Models

When teaching about microscopic entities like cells and cell organelles, it is necessary to question your teaching method:

·       Will the students be able to visualize these entities?

·       Will they be able to grasp the relative structural differences between these entities?

·       Will they be able to associate different extracellular and intracellular entities with the correct type of cell?

One method that will certainly help you answer ‘yes’ to each of the above questions is using interactive models. Interactive models help students visualize complex abstract scientific concepts through highly personalized learning experiences.

Interactive models to teach about the building blocks of animal cells could take several forms. For example, the students can perform simulated experiments that help isolate a given cell organelle. Or you could use an interactive multimedia presentation, with animations and in-built quizzes.

2. Make the Topic Fun with Games and Activities

Games and activities have the ability to immediately capture the attention of students and gently nudge them towards learning. The experiential nature of games and activities also means that students can retain scientific information for a longer term.

For example, in Labster’s ‘building animal cells’ simulation, students investigate a bear’s death on a hiking trail as they:

·       Learn about the four main types of animal cells – neural, epithelial, muscle, and connective.

·       Understand the various organelles that make up animal cells, like nuclei, Golgi bodies, ribosomes, lysosomes and so on.

·       Examine the cell structures that are unique to different types of animal cells.

3. Infuse Technology into Lessons

The era of advanced learning technologies has dawned upon us. And it is only prudent that educators adopt these technologies to augment classroom learning. Be it through a virtual laboratory or an augmented reality feature, technology-assisted teaching can make animal cells an exciting topic.

Labster’s ‘building animal cells’ simulation allows students to interactively put together different types of animal cells. As they do so, the students also learn about the functions of different cell organelles and extracellular components. As an added advantage, the students also get to try their hand at microscopic analysis during this simulation.

Discover Labster's Building Animal Cells virtual lab today!

4. Inspire Students Through Career Exploration

Often, the topics that are indispensable parts of a larger subject also tend to be the most complex ones. The structure and function of the animal cell is an apt case in point. Helping your students explore the careers that utilize these subtopics could make it easier to learn the complex subject matter.

Inform your students how tissue engineers manipulate different types of animal cells and their extracellular environments to engineer artificial organs. Tell them how scientists working on assisted reproductive technologies study animal cell organelles for nuclear transfer and mitochondrial replacement.

5. Connect Topic to Real-World Applications

Studying the intracellular and extracellular environments of animal cells has innumerable real-world applications that are steadily transforming the world. Telling your students about these applications will help them connect the topic to concepts that are more familiar to them.

For example, talk to your students about how damaged mitochondria are responsible for a host of diseases that affect metabolism. Tell them how ribosomal dysfunction can cause bone marrow failure and anemia. Discuss with them how mitochondria and lysosomes play an important role in cancer.

Final thoughts

Teaching the types and make-up of animal cells can be a taxing job for educators. The creative methods we have discussed here can make this topic exciting for educators and students alike.

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