Cell and the City
Boglin, Kirkpatrick, Phillips, and Walton

A Module for Investigative Case Based Learning in the Classroom



Use in Biology, AP Biology, Human Biology, Geography and Integrated Sciences. Students will model the metro Atlanta infrastructure and relate to cell structure.



Cell and the City


Mr. Talbert has planned a field trip for his Biology class. They are scheduled to visit several attractions within the city of Atlanta, which were selected by him.

Antwon asked, "Why are we going to visit all of these places? " Mr. Talbert, who was initially annoyed by the question, quickly reminded all of the students of their last discussion. During this time the problem "Can the city of Atlanta effectively represent the various functions of a cell?" was presented and basic cellular information was given.

The buses finally arrived, students boarded and they were off. Some of the selected sites were:
(1) City Hall
(2) Main Post Office
(3) Georgia Power
(4) Main Library
(5) Ford Motor
(6) Main Waste Management plant
(7) A large warehouse
(8) Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

During this excursion all the students were questioning Mr. Talbert about why are we visiting all of these places? Mr. Talbert did not answer any of these questions; he remained silent and smiled.

The next day's class was filled with conversation about the outing. Students were excited. Mr. Talbert came into the class and divided the class into two groups: Plants and Animals.

Students were asked to create as many questions as they could about the trip and about plants and animal cells. They immediately submitted the questions for collaboration during the research phase. During the collaboration phase students realized that certain places they had saw had similar roles that could be compared to those of organelles in the cell.

Mr. Talbert then instructed each group to construct a model of a cell based upon information collected during the trip and collaboration time.

Learning Objectives:

Students will:

1. Discuss and illustrate the organization of cells using the infrastructure of the City of Atlanta

2. Describe the structures and function of major cell components and organelles.

3. Compares and contrast the major structures and functions of typical plant/animal cells.


Relation to Science Education Standards:

Content Standards:

4.3 Differentiates between prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

4.4 Identifies common cell organelles and describe the function of each (e.g., diagrams and microscopic examinations).

15.1 Describes the cellular structure.

Process Standards:

1.1. Demonstrates proficiency in the use of science process skills in laboratory and/or field activities involving observation, classification, communication, metric measurement, prediction, inference, identifying variables, formulating hypotheses, controlling variables, making operational definitions, designing investigations, experimenting, collecting qualitative and/or quantitative data, constructing a data table, graphing, analyzing, and interpreting data and/or drawing conclusions.

1.2. Produces written reports of laboratory and/or field activities in accepted formats and use precise language for presentations of procedure, tables of data, graphs, analytical methods, results, and analyses of error.

2.1 Uses media resources such as print, audiovisual, and online services to find information.


Elements of ICBL

1. Case:
Students will read case after a field trip to various locations in Atlanta.

2. Resources:
Internet (www. cellsalive.com)

Clip - art

Science textbooks

Metro Atlanta maps

3. Investigative Activity:
Build a cell model using structures from within the metro Atlanta area and explain why these particular structures were selected to demonstrate cell function/structure.

4. Assessment:
Peer-assessment, listening to oral presentations, monitoring, use of displays, use of science journals

Oral presentation, production of a poster

Accuracy of model (33%), creativity of presentation (33%), attractiveness of poster and how work is shared (33%).

Suggested schedule:

I. Introduction of case ( 30 min. )
II. Create two major groups -one group for plants; one group for animals ( 20 min. )
III. Need to know segment [ student generated/teacher generated questions] ( 60 min. )
IV. Group collaboration using classroom/media center resources ( 1 class period )
V. Model construction of cell based upon info collected. Showing relationships between city and cell [ function/structure ] ( 1 class period )
VI. Assessment ( open-ended/ongoing )


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