This is a two day lesson series where students becoming components involved in protein synthesis in order to better understand the three steps of the process (transcription, RNA processing, translation).
During Day 1, students work through the simulation taking on specific roles within the three steps of the process.
During Day 2, we come together as a large group to discuss our experiences and findings and to utilize our previously made protein synthesis drawings for additional revisions and expansions.
I have tried a number of different protein synthesis simulations but this lab activity is for me the best because of the essential team approach to the activity and discussion and to the directions which are really well suited to the standard 50 class period that we use in our district. I have expanded this lab to span over two days so that we could more thoroughly discuss and explore as a large group and so that we could incorporate our previous introductory lesson drawings for even more comparison and discussion. As a teacher, I also appreciated that the materials prep aspect of the lab was minimal and easily stored for absent student needing to make up the lab later on in the week.
I will look forward to hearing about any tweaks and revisions you incorporated to make this lab even more useful to students!
1. Remind students of the previous day's lesson introducing the three steps of protein synthesis listed on the board: transcription, RNA processing, translation. Tell them that today they will be participating in a lab simulation so that they can get further into the details of protein synthesis.
2. Pass out the lab activity document. Ask students to read the directions to themselves. If your student group needs additional reading support, you can choose to read them out loud together.
3. Tell students to choose their roles within their lab groups: RNA polymerase, spliceosome/sNURP, ribosome/rRNA, tRNA
4. Indicate the various areas of the cell located within the classroom: cytoplasm with amino acids (side counter), nucleus for both DNA template strands (teacher front demo desk), and RNA processing activites work using snurps, ribosome (lab desks).
5. Announce that students should meet together as a lab group at their lab tables before beginning the assignment. Tell students that they should do all of their work in pairs: RNA polymerase with spliceosome/sNURP, ribosome/rRNA with tRNA. While two members are away from the lab table doing their job, the other two remaining members can review their roles to come or begin working on the lab document questions.
1. Allow student groups to meet briefly at their lab tables before pairs begin moving toward the nucleus for transcription and then processing. If five minutes go by and student groups don't appear to be moving up to the front, offer additional support as needed.
2. As students work on transcription, observe and offer redirection when necessary. For example, if you see a student transcribing the DNA strand into RNA using thymines instead of uracil, you can prompt them to rethink that by asking, 'What four bases are present in DNA vs. RNA and are they the same?' At that point, one of the two members will typically figure out the error. If not, you can suggest that they check their class notes and/or lab group back at the lab table before continuing on with their steps.
Note: Other issues I see during the lab that require some input from me for some groups include the following:
1. As you see student groups finishing up their lab simulation, remind them to return to their lab tables and begin to discuss and respond to the lab document questions. Although their lab documents will not be ready for turn in today, they should have their amino acide sequences listed out on the first side of the document and have begun to answer the lab analysis questions.
2. Tell students that there will be additional time tomorrow to finish up any uncompleted steps or to redo steps they feel they need to revisit.
And now on to Day 2!