Ready Recipe: The Science of Neurons

Model the interactions of neurons in an organism using Ready.

Neurobiology making with Ready. (Medium: 60 min.)

 

LEARNING OUTCOME

  • Build a model of neurons and their functions.
  • Apply computational thinking to the task, by making the model interact with the user.
  • Apply two-dimensional physics to simulate the way neurons communicate.
  • Differentiate between objects in “classes” (grouped into a single family of object) versus objects outside of classes.
  • Apply basic mathematical principles of thresholds to stimulate, activate, and potentially exhaust, a muscular cell.
  • Apply basic game mechanics to make the scene engaging.
  • Personalize the scene with your own aesthetic, while conveying the core information.
 

ACTIVITY OBJECTIVE

  • Place objects representing two neurons on the scene. (“soma”)
  • Place two objects representing the input side of the neuron. (“dendrites”)
  • Place two objects forming the output side of the neuron. (“axon” and “synapses”)
  • Place two excitatory signals; one for each neuron. (“volts”)
  • Place 1 receptor neuron connected to 1 muscle cell.
  • Calculate threshold of voltage stimuli to activate muscle cell.
  • Visually represent this chain of events.
  • Stress the muscle cell to failure, optionally.
  • Display informative text to the user, explaining each event as it occurs.
 

STARTER QUESTIONS

  • How can we represent neurons and volts on the screen?
  • What do you want to stimulate when a threshold is met?
 

CLOSING QUESTIONS

  • Can you visualize connecting what you made to another series of neurons to build a more complex simulation?
  • What are other types of cells that neurons can activate, and how might you model that in Ready?