Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cell Processes: Acting Out Mitosis

In this activity, students use simple props to carry out the process of mitosis.  It takes a little time to get the props ready, but they provide a valuable lesson and help students understand this sometimes "mysterious" process.  All materials can be picked up at a hardware store. 

These mitosis props were based on the instructions found in Chromosome Shuffle.  Please refer to those instructions for more complete information.

You will need to make at least 2 pairs of chromosomes.

For each pair of chromosomes, you'll need two dowels cut to the same length.  Wrap a length of self-adhesive Velcro (the soft side) around the middle of each dowel (or use a hot clue gun to attach regular Velcro).  Slip a length of tubing over the dowel*.  Mark the genes using colored tape (or paint). Screw in the eye half of a hook & eye closure to the middle of the dowel. 

Keep the rough side of the Velcro handy for connecting the chromosomes.

To make the spindles... attach the hook part of the hook & eye closure to the end of a 6 foot length of string.

Two lengths of rope to create the nuclear membranes.  You might also wish to use a larger length of rope to make the cell.  I tend to skip this part - I find the extra rope gets in the way more than it helps.   

Start with a cell with the nuclear membrane in tact.  Paired chromosomes are in the nucleus.

Nuclear membrane is removed.

Chromosomes line up.

Spindles attach to the chromosomes.

Chromosomes are pulled apart, to opposite sides.

Nuclear membranes reform. 

You could also make the corresponding chromosomes to use when studying meiosis. 

*In the orginal instructions, she uses two sizes of tubing - one that goes directly on the dowel, othe other, a larger size that slips over the first tubing.  It is the largest tubing that gets the genes.  This allows you to demonstrate things such as crossing over, etc.  I skipped the larger tubing, because my classes don't go into that kind of detail.  As a result, I could have skipped the tubing altogether and just painted the stripes on the dowels, but I didn't consider that at the time. 

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