Building a Cell Makers Project


When asked at the beginning of my summer here in Galway if I knew what Makers Education was, I said, “no”. I wasn’t sure at all what it was, but through research and discussion, I was quite surprised to find that I already use “making” as a form of learning in my classroom!

If you have not done so, please take a moment to browse my overview of this project here.

For this activity, I wanted to challenge students to take the abstract, microscopic concept of cells and bring it to life on a scale we can understand and see with our naked eye. This challenge is designed for my 10th grade biology students who struggle with learning the concept of cell structure and function with just paper and pencil activities. The idea behind making, is that if students are allowed to explore through building and actually creating a product themselves, they are developing a connection to that learning experience and will,  in turn, develop a deeper understanding of the material. Students turn this…

parts of cell.PNG




Please find my in depth Building a Cell, Maker Lesson here!

After deciding on an idea, getting feedback from peers, and actually making this cell myself, I am quite happy with my final product! I cannot wait to use this lesson with my biology kids next year.

Designing the building part was easy, I would save all of my recycling as well as have kids bring in cool “left over” stuff from home! Then, I was not sure how to assess students on this project since I decided the building process would be with a partner. Based on the concept of metacognition being used as a way to see student growth that was noted in the book, “How People Learn” I chose to take notes on the students progress and presentation, and then have them reflect on their own learning process throughout the making process. In “How People Learn” it states, “Teaching practices congruent with a metacognitive approach to learning include those that focus on sense-making, self-assessment, and reflection on what worked and what needs improving.”IMG_2067

Through a well constructed maker lesson, all of these areas of metacognitive thinking are
addressed. I know I had to rethink my design as I was building multiple times! Having to modify and redesign based on material constraints can be a teachable moment for problem solving as well.

After deciding on how I would  assess this project, I decided that the generation of the function of the cell information would be individual. This would be so that one student wouldn’t take over and do all the learning while the other student sat by. When each student comes up to present, I would make sure to highlight to the class one thing that each cell modeled particularly well to give students a sense of pride in the work that they did. During the presentations, the audience would have notes sheets asking them to fill in information from each presenter about each part of the cell. This is so that they have to pay attention, but also so that if they missed something on their project, they don’t miss out on the content.

Even though this maker lesson is low tech, it is still integrating technology, the recycled materials, paper and pencils, scissors, text books for students to access information about the function of cells, etc. Integrating technology along with the content knowledge that the students are learning along with the pedagogical content knowledge of the teacher who is facilitating this project is an excellent example of a low tech usage of TPACK. As Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler outlined in their article, “Too Cool for School?No Way!” TPACK is the combination of all three, technology knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and content knowledge.

Donovan, S., Bransford, J., & Pellegrino, J. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Retrieved from   isbn=0309070368

Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Learning and leading with technology. Retrieved From: “Too Cool for School” EJ839143


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