Enzyme Action: Flip Books for Science Processes
Mira Loma High School
4000 Edison St.
with the help of:
San Juan High School
Fair Oaks, CA
Type of Activity
Can be adapted for:
Biology, Life Science or Integrated Science
Sheltered (ESL) classes
This project can be used to teach many different science processes. I have personally
used it to teach enzyme activity and mitosis, but it could be used for meiosis, transcription/translation,
active transport, or other biological process. It is very helpful if the teacher spends the time to make one beforehand, or at least have a professionally
made one handy for demonstration.
Paper, scissors, colored pens or pencils, patience, and an active imagination.
Students design and produce a small "movie" of a biological process (enzyme activity
is described). Students design a flip-book (many pages of drawings which, when flipped,
move like a motion picture) which demonstrates one of the theories of enzyme activity. Students choose a theory such as induced fit, positive or negative regulators
etc., and then using their creativity find a humorous or artistic interpretation
to demonstrate the principle. Students produce a product that they are proud of,
they actually learn and absorb the process, and evaluation is enjoyable as well.
Some previous discussion of proteins, protein structure, and enzyme theory in general
is necessary. Explain to the students that they will be making a movie showing how
an enzyme works. Demonstrate a previously prepared flip-book so they can see that
you do not need a camera to make a film. I usually discuss how animated films are made,
how many pictures it takes to make one second of film (27), and so on. Since we have
already discussed the different theories of enzyme action, such as lock and key,
induced fit, positive and negative regulators or inhibitors, they understand enzymes somewhat.
I ask them to choose one theory to demonstrate with a flip-book. Then I tell them
that enzymes are SO SMALL that we REALLY don't know EXACTLY what they look like (a
lie, and they know it), so their enzymes and substrates could look like practically anything.
For instance, an enzyme could look like a toaster, and two pieces of bread (substrates)
could enter, and when they leave they look like a sandwich (product). Or the substrates could be two halves of a basketball, and as they pass through a hoop
(enzyme) they are put together into a whole ball (product). Then the "wheels start
turning" and the students actually become competitive, each trying to out do the
I have seen some incredibly imaginative efforts. Students can use their hobbies as
inspiration, which then adds further incentive. Media used can vary quite a bit,
from paper stapled together to sticky notepads. One student used 3" X 5" cards and
bolted them together! Each flip book should state the theory demonstrated, have labels for
all the major "players" in the film at least once, and no matter how creative they
become, each book must be scientifically accurate.
I give the majority of the points for scientific accuracy (70%), and the rest of the
points are creativity, overall design, and "degree of difficulty". Just like an Olympic
diver gets more points for a difficult dive than an easy one, I give more points
for a flip book demonstrating positive regulators than the lock and key theory.
I use a camcorder in my classroom on a daily basis, and I offer extra points for students
to come use it to make an actual film of their flip book. I have used the enzyme
approach in biology, and flip books of mitosis in life science classes with very
positive results, both in student reaction and test performance afterwards. I can see
how this project could also be used to show transcription/translation, transport
across cell membranes, or any concept dealing with biological processes.