Manipulate Cells on the iPad
digital age skills teach students to learn how to learn for them- selves, which is the foundation
of the 5E science learning cycle that
includes engagement, exploration,
explanation, elaboration, and evaluation. In my AP Biology class, students
used this process to explore the concept of mitosis through three learning
stations. This allowed them to work in
small groups, which fostered their collaboration and communication skills.
The first was a craft station. Students created a cell-cycle flipbook
and discussed what happened during
each phase and subphase of mitosis.
The second was a laptop station where
students received a list of websites that
included texts, interactive illustrations, videos, and a simulation game
intended to introduce them to the
concept, teach the concept, and allow
them to apply the concept. The final
station included three iPads loaded
with the Mitosis app, a free download
from the Apple i Tunes store.
The Mitosis App
The highlight of the day for most su-dents was the third station because
most had never used an iPad before.
The lesson began with three or four
eager students gathered around each
iPad. They turned the iPad to change
from landscape to portrait view and
clicked on the app.
Once students clicked on the Explore
tab in the Tutor section of the app, they
were tapping, pulling, and manipulating each phase of the cell cycle. The
students had to drag the centrioles/
centrosomes to opposite poles during
interphase and then tap the cell until
the membrane broke apart, spilling
sister chromatids into the surrounding cell during the prophase. Students
By Jessica M. Richardson
connected mitotic spindle fibers to
each of the sister chromatids at their
kinetochore during prometaphase.
They pulled their thumbs and index fingers in opposite directions to
pull apart the sister chromatids and
then swiped their fingers down the
metaphase plate to fully separate the
chromosomes in the anaphase. They
completed the cell cycle by using
their fingers to circle cell contents to
create two new cells and pinch the
cells apart during cytokinesis.
This app allowed students to manipulate each phase of the cell cycle. They
explored on their own and then read
accompanying text for understanding,
actively participating in the engagement, exploration, and explanation
portions of the 5E model. After they
viewed all phases of mitosis, they moved
to the Read and Listen tab to recap the
cell cycle. The final portion included a
10-question quiz, which completed the
elaboration and evaluation portions of
the learning cycle model.
Students performed well on the quiz
following the Explore section of the
the mitosis app not only illustrates what cells do during various phases, it also allows users to manipulate cells.
Mitosis app. They worked in pairs to
discuss answers before selecting their
choices. My supervising teacher and
I walked around each group to check
quiz results, and no group missed
more than one question.
The Library section of the Mitosis app
offers videos, images, a glossary, and
resources, but it requires an internet
connection because the videos are on
You Tube. The images embedded in the
app, which depicted the phases of the
cell cycle through a microscope, were
the same images in our class textbook.
The app’s glossary defines all terms
associated with the cell cycle in a clear,
concise way. My students, however,
were too busy separating chromosomes with a swipe of their fingertips
and didn’t use the glossary. The app
also offers lectures available through
i Tunes U and additional images in the
Resources section. Lectures are from
the University of Maryland, Loyola
Marymount University, and the University of Colorado at Boulder, and
they range from less than 2 minutes to
nearly 40 minutes.