The concept of the relationship between structure and function in living organisms from the smallest level of organization (the cell) to tissues, organs and organ systems is foundational in the study of life science. Providing accurate models to students with visual impairment is essential in building this connection between structure and function.
The model described is of a molecule of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is the energy currency of the cell because it provides energy for the cell’s activities. Understanding the structure of this molecule leads to a clear understanding of the manner in which it provides needed energy to the cell.
This model was created by Adele Hauser, one of the artists with whom I have collaborated (See blog Collaboration of TVI with artist )
Amazingly, she created the model and wrote the directions in less than an hour!
Click here to download this procedure.
When teaching the class about the function of ATP as the energy currency of cells, pass around the model. Allow students to find the phosphate groups (styrofoam balls). Describe the phosphate groups as negatively charged
Ask: What would happen if two negatively charged groups are close to each other? (They would repel each other.)
Describe this portion of the molecule as like a spring. Show the students a large spring and pass it around.
Have each students remove one of the phosphate groups and replace it as they pretend to be filled with energy. (Define as ATP)
When I have time, I allow students to build the model. If not, I provide them with the model as we discuss cellular respiration and ATP.
By Laura Hospitál
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