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Anatomy & Physiology
Lights, Camera, Action Potential
"Lights, Camera, Action Potential" is an activity that simulates a nerve impulse traveling along the axon of a neuron. Each pair of students is given a small length of the axon, along with the sodium, potassium and chloride ions (beans and peas), charged ions and molecules (small pieces of construction paper), and gated channels (toothpicks are gates). Students follow the instructions given by the teacher to complete the activity.
It is best if the teacher shows a model of what the set-up looks like before students begin. (See pictures below.) It is also very important to tell students that only one bean at a time can be picked up and moved through the channel when the gate is open.
I laminated large pieces of paper (80cm long) for the axon portion and added the appropriate lines and spaces to represent the channels and cell membrane. I also use one aluminum pan instead of three because it takes up less space than three. Unused plastic toothpicks left over from blood-typing lab kits work great for the gates because they are 3 different colors.
Put the beans and peas in Zip-lock baggies and label the bags. For example, 15 Na+ INSIDE (black-eyed peas) in a snack bag and 150 Na+ OUTSIDE (black-eyed peas) in a sandwich bag. It makes clean up easier because students only have to count out 15 for one bag and put the rest in the other bag. The toothpicks, Post-It notes, and charged ions and molecules go in the same baggie. Finally, all the small baggies go into a one-gallon baggie for storage.
The "Lights, Camera, Action Potential Student Lab" is what I use in my Anatomy & Physiology classes and the "Lights, Camera, Action Potential Lesson Plan" and the "Extension Exercises" are for AP Biology. Feel free to modify the simulation to fit your needs. ENJOY! (graciously shared by Cheryl Hollinger)