As a student I memorized the functions of a cell's organelles, but I did not truly comprehend how they worked together. As a teacher I found that my students were also experiencing this same lack of connection. In hopes of making this connection I wrote a short play. This activity greatly helped my students. I hope that your students will benefit form it as well.
11-13 trash bags
10 Name tags to identify organelles
9 Energy Units
Classroom walls act as cell membrane
1. assign organelles to the students: nucleus, nucleolus, rough er, smooth er, (3) golgi apparatus, lysosome, vacuole, mitochondria, cytoskeleton, (2) ribosomes
you can assign the parts yourself or draw names out of a beaker
to get more students involved I often use 2 vacuoles, 2 mitochondria and 2
2. pass out trash bags
nucleus 2 (because nucleus has a double membrane)
mitochondria 1 each
rough er 1
smooth er 1
golgi apparatus 1 each = 3
vacuole 1 each
3. paperclip or tape organelle name tags to trash bags or student's clothing
4. read over the script with the class and explain how to act it out
explain to the students that for the play the nucleus will speak, but that it actually directs the cell functions by sending out chemical messages
mitochondrian make energy = either write the word energy on a piece of paper or simulate the making of it in some other manner (have each one make 3 each if using two mitochondria)
cytoskeleton take an energy unit to = students acting as cytoplasm go to mitochondria, pick up the energy units and deliver them to the intended organelles (if using 2 then only deliver 3 energy units each)
nucleolus make a ribosome (attached) = nucleolus put a name tag that says ribosome on one of the students (then one cytoplasm student takes the ribosome and stands him/her right next to the rough er)
nucleolus make a ribosome (unattached) = nucleolus put a name tag that says ribosome on the other student that was assigned to be a ribosome (then one cytoplasm student takes the ribosome to another part of the cell)
ribosome make a protein = ribosomes make a protein by writing the word protein on a piece of paper or simulate the making of it in some other manner
cytoskeleton send protein from attached ribosome to smooth er and send protein from unattached to an organelle = 1 cytoskelton actor take the protein from the attached ribosome to the smooth er and the 2nd cytoskeleton take the protein to any organelle
smooth er package the protein and ship to to the golgi apparatus = smooth er tears off part of trash bag (membrane) and wraps it around the protein then the cytoplasm delivers the packaged protein to the 1st student in the golgi apparatus line
golgi apparatus alter the protein, repackage it and send it out of the cell = 1st person unwraps the protein then hands it to the 2nd person, the 2nd person then alters it by folding the protein paper (or in any manner that you choose), next the 2nd person hands it to the 3rd person who tears off part of his/her trash bag and wraps the plastic around the protein, finally the wrapped protein is handed to the cytoplasm who takes the packaged protein and sets it outside the cell (through the classroom door)
lysosome collect and recycle old and dying parts = (before the activity mark the name tags in some manner so that the lysosome knows who to recycle) the lysosome finds the organelle that has been marked, tears off his/her trash bag and shoves the removed trash bag inside his/her own trashbag
If time and materials permit I have the first set of actors sit down and let the audience act out the play the second time
NUCLEUS: "MITOCHONDRION MAKE ENERGY"
-mitochondrion makes energy
NUCLEUS: "CYTOSKELETON TAKE AN ENERGY UNIT TO EACH OF THE FOLLOWING: NUCLEUS, NUCLEOLUS, ROUGH ER, SMOOTH ER, GOLGI APPARATUS, AND LYSOSOME"
-cytoskeleton delivers energy
NUCLEUS: "NUCLEOLUS MAKE A RIBOSOME (ATTACHED)"
-nucleolus makes ribosome
-new ribosome goes over and attaches to rough er
NUCLEUS: "MITOCHONDRION GIVE THE NUCLEOLUS ANOTHER ENERGY UNIT"
-cytoskeleton delivers energy to nucleolus
NUCLEUS: "NUCLEOLUS MAKE ANOTHER RIBOSOME (UNATTACHED)"
-nucleolus makes a ribosome
NUCLEUS: "MITOCHONDRION GIVE EACH RIBOSOME AN ENERGY UNIT"
-cytoskeleton delivers energy to ribosomes
NUCLEUS: "RIBOSOMES MAKE A PROTEIN"
-ribosomes make a protein
NUCLEUS: "CYTOSKELETON SEND PROTEIN FROM ATTACHED RIBOSOME TO SMOOTH ER AND SEND PROTEIN FORM UNATTACHED TO AN ORGANELLE "
-cytoskeleton takes protein from attached ribosome to smooth er and takes protein from unattached to an organelle of choice
NUCLEUS: "SMOOTH ER PACKAGE THE PROTEIN AND SHIP IT TO THE GOLGI APPARATUS"
-smooth er packages protein and cytoskeleton takes the vesicle to the golgi apparatus
NUCLEUS: "GOLGI APPARATUS ALTER THE PROTEIN TO ITS NEEDED FINAL FORM, REPACKAGE IT AND SEND IT OUT OF THE CELL"
-golgi apparatus alters the protein, repackages it and then the cytoskeleton takes it through the membrane and out of the cell (take out through classroom door)
NUCLEUS: "LYSOSOME COLLECT AND RECYCLE OLD AND DYING PARTS"
-lysosome disassembles structure with one pink star first go around, and the structure with two pink stars the second
Energy/Name Tag/Protein Examples