The PALM Workshop

Workshop Leaders: Tim Herman and Margaret Franzen

Photo:Physical ModelsProteins in Active Learning Modules (PALM) activities combine three-dimensional physical models with interactive computer visualizations and compelling visualizations to allow students greater access to the invisible molecular world.

PALM activities -

  • Focus on the interrelationship between structure and function of proteins that are current “hot topics” of research
  • Capture student attention in compelling “molecular stories”
  • Incorporate multiple representations of protein structures (2D, 3D) to improve spatial reasoning skills
  • Combine hands-on “foldable” protein models with accurate physical models of protein structure as “thinking tools”
  • Connect concepts within the science curriculum to enrich student learning

Rick Wolf with Amino Acid Starter KitPALM activities have been selected to focus a number of important topics addressed throughout the biological sciences, while incorporating pertinent chemical principles.

Topics explored in PALM activities:

  • Basics of protein folding — impact of hydrophobic/hydrophilic nature of amino acids on protein folding as well as importance of salt bridges; exploration of protein folding with Mini-Toobers (flexible foam-covered wire) and Jmol images
  • Acetylcholinesterase — active site exploration using physical models; competitive inhibition by insecticides; molecular basis for insecticide resistance, including bioinformatics activity
  • Influenza hemagglutinin — modeling pH induced conformational change in protein structure leading to membrane fusion
  • ATPase — exploration of this molecular machine as an ion transporter, enzyme and molecular motor
  • Cytochrome P450 — role in metabolism of numerous drugs; case study involving patient with mutation in this enzyme resulting in buildup of drug

Photo:Mini-ToobersWorkshop participants worked through PALM activities and provided input for development of additional activities as well as assessment tools.

2008 PALM Workshop Notebook (Be patient; this is a large file.)

Read a recent article in ASBMB Today by Duane Sears. This article describes the 2008 PALM Workshop.

For more information about the PALM Workshop, please contact Margaret Franzen at