Modeling the Mitochondria (Part 1/2)

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Students will construct a model of the mitochondria to better understand the process of cellular respiration.

Big Idea

Revisit the cell walk and make a model of the mitochondria.

What Students will Learn in this Lesson

1 minutes

By revisiting the mitochondrial model shown in the cell walk, students learn more about mitochondria structure.  While building the mitochondria model, students discover the research that led scientists to this model.  At the end of the lesson, students compare the mitochondria with the prokaryotic cell model. This is day one of a two day lesson.  Here is an overview of what students will learn today.  

Hook/Check for Understanding

3 minutes

Play the video clip, Powering the Cell: Mitochondria in its entirety.  

While students are watching the video, they should make observations in their lab notebook and write a script for the video. Even if they cannot name the structures they are seeing, they should be able to describe the action they are seeing. Encourage students to double space this journal entry as they write. At the end of the lesson, students will revisit the video and add the proper scientific terminology that they will learn in this lesson.



Student Activity: Create a Mitochondria Model

30 minutes

Students will use the following equipment to make a model of the mitochondria

  • a one person tent
  • tarp
  • small safety pins
  • two pieces of rope of equal size
  • clear packing tape.
  • large red foam plates
  • small red foam plates
  • ATP synthase cutout
  • tape measure or meter stick

Student will begin by assembling the tent.  This will represent the outer membrane of the mitochondria.  Next students will wind the tarp throughout the inside of the tent carefully pinning the tarp in place. This will present the inner membrane of the mitochondria (also know as the matrix).  Students should twist the two pieces of rope together to make a helix.  Next, students to attach the two ends with clear packing tape. Students should construct ribosomes by taping small plates to large plates to represent the two subunits of the ribosome.  Finally, students should attached the ATP synthase cutouts to the inner membrane with clear packing tape.  

After constructing the mitochondria model, students will complete the Examining Mitochondrial Size and Structure Worksheet.  

Putting It All Together: Comparing Mitochondria to Prokaryotes

30 minutes

Using the Examining Mitochondrial Size and Structure Worksheet, students should compare the mitochondria model they created to the prokaryotic model that they made earlier in the year. Students will also focus on Lynn Margulis' endosymbiosis theory.  

Have students revisit the video from the beginning of class.  

First, students should revise their script and insert the correct scientific terminology. Next, have them identify which parts of the script discuss glycolysis, Krebs cycle, and electron transport chain.  Have them underline the portion of the script that apply to each with different colored pencil.  Finally, have students rewrite the entire script adding transitions and details.  (Note: If students are not able to complete their final script, they should consider it homework.)

Homework:  Students should watch Jodi Nunnari's iBiology lecture on mitochrondria.

They should take notes using the Cornell Notes method.