Thursday, February 23, 2017

Connecting and learning

In today’s lab, we made a 3D semi-permeable phospholipid bilayer cell membrane organized with polar proteins and carbohydrate chains. At the beginning, we were unsure on how to plan our model, but after researching and discussing on the structure of cell membranes, we decided to build a box-like membrane attached with zoomer tools. The building process demonstrated a pattern of measurement as we all had to agree on the size and shape of the model. Building a cell membrane based on observation was not a simple task. Many zoomer tools began to separate from each other, not to mention that we attempted to build large proteins that stick out from the membrane to show polarity between the phosphate region and the protein. Our model is selectively permeable and “semipermeable” in the phosphate region, (as we studied in class), because cellular membranes allow substances to move across with the help of embedded proteins. When we built our model, we realized how easy it is to distinguish permeability in a cell.  

Connecting is an intuitive way of learning. In using zoom-tools, we were able to work almost effortlessly to create a very complex membrane. Of course, we had an underlying strategy--to build a boxlike figure that had both lipids and proteins and that was about two feet wide. But after splitting up, we were able to connect the tools to mimic different pieces of a semi permeable bilayer phospholipid membrane. In this mindless work of connecting tools, there is also a layer of imagination that takes place. In mimicking the real world, we have learned that we should not make straight lines, but vary them. This takes some imagination, but this imagination comes naturally--sometimes being imaginative is literally thinking outside the box and not making perfectly straight lines. In this lab we learned that connection and imagination are in fact connected, but both are part of our makeup.

Planning was difficult because most of the times you see a phospholipid bilayer it will be a 2d picture rather than a 3d picture. Transforming the bilayer into a three dimensional form was a real frustrating struggle but through cooperation we were able to manipulate the zometools into something that resembles a phospholipid bilayer membrane. We originally decided to design each phosphate group individually but as your suggestion stated that is not a valid strategy. Instead, we designed the exterior support structure en masse and added the core components of the bilayer later. Instead of looking at each small piece we looked at the structure in a holistic view.




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