Dunn Lab Past and Present in Splash Teaching Extravaganza

November 15, 2011 at 1:58 am Leave a comment

Many members of the Dunn lab organized and partook in the Splash program over Halloween weekend, and we taught a variety of classes ranging from electronic transitions, to slime molds, to introductory biophysics.  The classes were all great successes and we all really enjoyed interacting with the students over the course of the weekend.

In the electronic transitions class, we burned different metal salts to show various colored flames.  See below.  Almost everyone in the Dunn lab was involved in teaching this course, and we recruited the help of other Stanford graduate students in addition.  We had the students guess which salts were burning based on the color of the flame and they were curious to learn the fundamental chemistry behind this phenomenon.  Also, the students wanted to see all the metal salts burned together, so at the end we had the finale with a very colorful flame.

Emerson Glassey, who is  currently an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz and a Dunn lab alumni, taught a course on slime molds.  The class went really well; the students were mostly curious what a Slime Mold is, and were intrigued to learn how unique an organism it really is. They gasped when Emerson told them it moved at speeds over 2cm/second and were all interested in how they could get there own slime mold pet.

Finally, Armen and Craig taught an introductory biophysics class with the following topics:
Protein composition and structure and the role of protein structure to function
Enzymes: basic concepts and kinetics
Effect of force on chemical reaction kinetics
Polymer dynamics and its role in biological function

They showed several animations from biophysics literature including one of “Optical Trap Tetris” and several experiments tracking single-molecule F1-ATPase from the Kinosita lab.  Also, they performed a live demonstration with magnetic beads tethered to glass with DNA and manipulated them using external magnets.  The students were engaged during the entirety of the class and stayed an additional hour after the allotted time to discuss other biophysical examples.  This was extremely fun for Craig and Armen, as they got to talk about their own research and also discuss the students’ academic plans and scientific interests.

      

Please let us know other class ideas for the next Splash event by commenting and be sure to do the poll 🙂

Until next time.  -Dunn lab

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