Parkinson’s disease, the neurodegenerative disorder that currently affects more than 8.5 million people worldwide, is complex and multifactorial. It involves a host of determining factors like genetic defects (such as the dysregulated alpha-synuclein gene), environmental factors, and aging.
Teaching students about this complicated disease is even more challenging because of the indispensable use of advanced experimental techniques. For example, liquid chromatography methods like size exclusion chromatography and ion exchange chromatography are common methods in Parkinson’s disease research. Similarly, imaging techniques like confocal microscopy are vital to understanding the pathology of this debilitating disease.
Given the complexities of Parkinson’s disease and associated research methods, educators must find engaging ways to teach it. Here, we list five engaging ways to teach about Parkinson’s disease to keep students informed.
Interactive models can pique students’ curiosity about challenging topics by facilitating better visualization and offering a robust tangibility. These advantages of interactive models can prove to be quite useful when teaching Parkinson’s disease.
Labster’s Parkinson’s disease simulation, for example, lets the students perform difficult in vitro experimental procedures in an interactive virtual environment. The students also get to virtually test the beneficial effects of epigallocatechin gallate, a green tea component, against Parkinson’s disease.
Games and activities transform the classroom into a collaborative learning arena that is fun as well as engaging. Parkinson’s disease and the techniques that help us study it can also become easier to grasp with games and activities.
For example, to teach your students about size exclusion chromatography, an important tool in Parkinson’s disease research, you can conduct an exciting activity. Ask your students to build an enlarged version of a size exclusion chromatography column using a transparent plastic cylinder and some ping pong balls. The students will then try to pass objects of different sizes, from mustard seeds to kidney beans, through the column. This activity will help the students visualize and learn the principle of size exclusion chromatography while having fun.
When teaching about cell-level phenomena underlying a disease (like Parkinson’s disease), it is best to deploy technology to ease learning. Technologies, like simulation and virtual reality, allow students to immerse themselves into a virtual world where science becomes more visual and interactive.
For example, Labster’s Parkinson’s disease simulation helps students induce oligomerization of the important Parkinson’s disease protein alpha-synuclein. The students then perform size exclusion chromatography to separate alpha-synuclein monomers from the oligomers. They also use fluorescent large unilamellar vesicles to study neurodegenerative phenomena in vitro. And what’s better – all of these complex experiments take place in a safe virtual world where students can fast-forward time.
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If students know that something they are studying can build their career, even the most exhausting topics can become exciting. Learning about the neurobiology of Parkinson’s disease is exhausting in its own right. Educators can make it exciting by discussing the career opportunities it has to offer.
For example, tell your students why neurobiologists find Parkinson’s disease a fascinating subject of research. Talk to them about how neurologists need to acquire extensive knowledge of Parkinson’s disease and the latest research around it. You can even conduct special workshops or seminars with these specialists so students can hear straight from the horse’s mouth!
It can be difficult to teach students about a neurodegenerative disease that they may find obscure and unrelatable. Connecting your teaching material about Parkinson’s disease to real-world applications can make the topic more approachable for the students.
Share with your students the details of some real-life cases of Parkinson’s disease. Talk to your students about Parkinson’s disease cases where doctors were able to treat a patient’s symptoms through novel compounds. Such case studies can draw the students’ attention towards the need for dedicated Parkinson’s disease research.
Challenging topics of study, such as the neurobiology of Parkinson’s disease, necessitate the use of innovative and engaging teaching methods. The teaching techniques we have listed here can help your students learn about Parkinson’s disease in exciting new ways.
If you are an educator looking for innovative and engaging methods to teach your students about Parkinson’s disease, try out Labster’s Parkinson’s disease virtual lab.
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