Thursday, February 23, 2017

Connecting the dots (aka proteins)

The lab today was made up of two parts. The first part of the lab consisted of reading blog posts to get a more complete understanding of permeability. Through the writings Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, we were able to connect the ideas of permeability beyond the the natural world and into the way that thought and ideas can permeate in a group of people.

In the second part, we designed and built a phospholipid bilayer out of Zometools. It was difficult because we weren’t allowed to have straight lines, but through experimenting and trial and error, we were able to use the straight tools while creating a model that was more like real life. Textbook phospholipids are straight, flat and rigid whereas the ones in real life are not straight at all. The best part was fitting in the permeating proteins because one of them we actually attached to the structure but some we realized could just be placed in because they fit so nicely.

While building our membrane and protein out of Zometools, we found ourselves incorporating many of the words we later chose on the list. When building, we experimented and tried various different shapes for our creation. We comprehensively connected this building to the study of membranes, proteins, and permeability from class.

In this lab we went out to create a phospholipid bilayer the main difficulty was to try and create a symmetrical yet functional piece that formed the correct shape. Connecting the individual structures we created with the Zometools allowed us to expand our structure. In the end, our structure was a big collaboration of different sizes phospholipids with a couple of large proteins extending through it. We demonstrated the permeability of our structure with another structure by passing one through the other.

However through sheer force of will we were able to create something new and amazing. We were able to create a structure that was both functional and also able to support the proteins within it. Another particular obstacle was making it permeable and structurally sound.  

Today, we had to read articles that enhanced our understanding of permeability from the perspective of art, not just biology. We chose the words laughing, building, connecting, observing, and experimenting because that is what we did during this experiment. We worked together to connect the zometools to build proteins and a phospholipid bilayer. We experimented with different shapes and forms and observed each other, accepting constructive criticism from one another so that we could improve on our work and move forward as a group. We were laughing all the while; maintaining a positive attitude is the key to the power of play, it stimulates curiosity and enhances understanding.


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