I’ve just got time for a quick post this morning before I dash off to Imperial. We are finally handing in our group projects, so the whole day will be spent watching people present – and presenting my own, of course. Hopefully I’ll have some picture up in a few days.
For now, have a look at this video which depicts protein translation using stop-motion Lego animation:
The video was created by Kathy Vandiver, director of the Community Outreach and Education Program at MIT’s Center for Environmental Health Sciences, and is just one of a series of animations about cellular processes. They’re used as teaching aids for school-aged and adult students, but whilst I think it looks pretty cool (I’m always up for a bit of stop-motion) I don’t think it’s a very good example of science communication.
For one thing, I have absolutely no idea what is happening here. For that, I have to turn to the accompanying article in Popular Science magazine:
It shows translation, which is a cellular process in which proteins are synthesized. The piece of mRNA (messenger RNA) at the bottom of the video contains genetic information for building a protein. Each codon, which is a nucleotide triplet, in the mRNA sequence codes for an amino acid, which are the building blocks of proteins.
I’m confident enough that I have a working knowledge of biology to be able to write about it, but the last time I actually studied the subject was for my GCSEs. If I don’t get it, I don’t see how students currently working at GCSE level are meant to.
Perhaps I’m being a little unfair, as the videos are only meant to serve as an introduction at the beginning of a class. In that setting, I could see how they would work. Watching them out of context however, and I’m left baffled. What do you make of it?