Have you ever heard of Fakebook? It is a neat site that allows you to make a fake, Facebook-like page about anything you’d like. Then you can add pictures, profile information, comments, and friends.
When I stumbled upon this site I thought it might be a fun (and useful) exercise for students learning chemistry and cell structures. Those topics are typically challenging for students to relate to since they are smaller than the eye can see. But Fakebook provides a medium for students to think about how these tiny structures may interact. For example, here is a Fakebook page that I made for a ribosome: http://www.classtools.net/fb/9/gcb4GS
Notice at the top of the page are characteristics describing the ribosome. I chose the categories myself: “favorite activity,” “favorite location,” etc. Then I added a few cell structures that might be the ribosome’s friends, like Nucleus, Golgi apparatus, and Eukaryotic cell. Finally, I wrote some interactions that these four organelles might have, if they were able to talk with one another. This step of anthropomorphizing the organelles is where I think most of the learning takes place. Students write about the interactions among organelles without worrying about using technical language. While writing conversations between organelles, students will also likely come up with analogies for cell structures. In my page, the cell was a workplace and the nucleus was the boss. Below is an image of what Golgi apparatus posted on Ribosome’s wall.
You can use this activity for many subjects. (Here’s a search page to see what other people have done: http://www.classtools.net/main_area/fakebook/search.php). It would apply well to atomic structures, with participants such as ions, isotopes, electrons, and chemical bonds. If animal and/or plant diversity is on your syllabus, then students could make Fakebook pages about the major phyla. And then each student can paste the link to his or her Fakebook page to a class forum, so that students can learn from one another.
It took me about 30 minutes to make the simple ribosome page. It probably would not have taken that long, but the page froze while trying to upload a comment one time, and I had to start over. That’s when I learned that there is a save button on the right side. If this is an activity that you’d like to try, then it might be good to advise students to save often.
Let us know if you try Fakebook in your class!
[posted by Matt Taylor]