Short Film Profile

Through the Virtual Cell

The magical quality and intricate beauty of cellular processes are the subject of THROUGH THE VIRTUAL CELL. Visualization is a valuable tool in learning scientific topics and helps learners grasp important conceptual relationships. Drawing on a blackboard is useful for naming components and providing a rough approximation of relative orientation at the beginning of a process but not effective when attempting to illustrate how molecules or cellular structures interact. Details of the interaction can be illustrated on the board but what results is an unordered drawing consisting of a complex series of lines and arrows pointing to or from the different objects. This may make sense to a more experienced student, but it is not as informative to the first time learner. The addition of motion to a presentation illustrates transitional states and is effective at capturing the complexity of individual components and how they interact. Current biology textbooks contain CDs with animations; however, nearly all of these animations are flat, two-dimensional characterizations that gloss over the underlying complexity of a process. Because they are flat, important spatial relationships of the different components of the process cannot easily be captured. The most effective visualizations reveal the complexity of the objects involved in the process, illustrate how and where the objects interact, provide a spatial representation of the molecules during the process, and smoothly represent the transitional states the objects undergo during the length of the process. High quality, three-dimensional representations have all of these attributes. The goal of the Virtual Cell project is to create high quality animations of selected molecular and cellular processes such as THROUGH THE VIRTUAL CELL. The choice of animations to develop is informed by workshops held with university and 7-12 science teachers. We choose cellular processes that are diffucult to grasp.

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Previous screenings

27 Mar | South Beach, United States

Film details

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Information on this profile is provided by the film owners and/or compiled from available sources | Profile updated 11 May 2009