The PALM Project

Proteins in Active Learning Modules

PALM participants modeling nuclear poreThe Proteins in Active Learning
Modules (PALM) Project is committed to the development of instructional materials that capture student interest in molecular structure/function and stimulate them to learn more about this fascinating molecular world. The PALM Project focuses on developing compelling 'molecular stories' centered on medically or socially relevant proteins for use in high school and undergraduate classrooms.

Jen and Jane pondering modelThe Center for BioMolecular Modeling is working with educators to develop a range of innovative instructional materials that work synergistically to facilitate student understanding of difficult concepts in molecular structure and function. These materials are being developed in a modular manner, such that they can be adapted in a wide range of classroom settings. These instructional materials include:

  • physical models of proteins and other molecular structures
  • computer-generated images of proteins (narrated Jmol tutorials)
  • molecular animations that place the protein within the context of a macromolecular assembly, a metabolic pathway or physiological mechanism
  • dynamic, precisely-scaled illustrations as well as schematic drawings
  • graphical representations of data related to protein function

Together, these instructional materials facilitate the telling of molecular stories. The stories that we would like to share with our students have become complex, compelling, and three-dimensional. The tools we use to communicate these stories to our students should possess these same qualities. A more detailed description of the use of physical models in teaching is provided in Tactile Teaching: Exploring Protein Structure/Function Using Physical Models.

Teachers exploring alpha helix/beta sheet construction kit.The Center for BioMolecular Modeling is working with educators to develop, enhance and field-test these modules. If you are interested in participating in the PALM project, have questions about borrowing any of the materials that have been developed, or have suggestions for additional modules, please contact Margaret Franzen franzen@msoe.edu.

The PALM project has been supported by an NSF-CCLI grant (#0618688) to Tim Herman (Milwaukee School of Engineering), Margaret Franzen (Milwaukee School of Engineering), David Goodsell (The Scripps Research Institute), David Nelson (University of Wisconsin - Madison) and Dan Sem (Marquette University).