Reflection: Modeling Viral Anatomy and Classification (Part 1/2) - Section 6: Student Activity: Construction of Helical Virus Model


Even if they do not know all of the stages involved, it is important that students understand the tests and techniques that scientists must use in order to determine the structure of viruses and, therefore, develop a model that can be visualized by everyone. Since I teach all the science courses at my high school, I make it a point to incorporate certain laboratory procedures to help them understand the tests and techniques that scientists commonly use across the disciplines of science. 

I introduce several techniques like centrifugation and density gradients to my freshmen in Earth Science. I do this so they will understand the basics when we discuss ultracentrifugation and Cesium chloride density gradients as sophomores in Biology and upper classmen in Anatomy & Physiology and Genetics.  I also reinforce the cross cutting concepts of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity throughout this lesson as students notice that scientists must keep temperatures the same (either high or low) to keep certain biomolecules stable or instable depending on the purpose of the technique they are performing.

Students also need to understand why ultracentrifugation is necessary.  Centrifuging at high rates of speed allow the tiny viral components to move down the Cesium chloride density gradient. Without these high rates of speed, the viral components would not move at all.  Finally, students need to understand that Cesium chloride naturally forms density gradients and this is why scientists choose to use this compound.  

  Understanding the tests scientists use to make models
  Modeling: Understanding the tests scientists use to make models
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Viral Anatomy and Classification (Part 1/2)

Unit 2: Viruses
Lesson 3 of 11

Objective: Students will construct models of the four types of viruses.

Big Idea: Ebola, Dengue and bacteriophages, oh my! Turn the classroom into a virus zoo by creating virus models and comparing their evolution.

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adenovirus weis
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