Guided Neuron Firing Modeling: Hands-On Activity

Rated 5 out of 5, based on 11 reviews
11 Ratings
Grade Levels
10th - 12th, Higher Education
Formats Included
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  1. This is a combination of the two versions of my neuron firing: a more guided version, and a less-guided version. Sometimes people like having both so they can decide which to use with their students, or they can differentiate with their students.See each separate page for more info. This is simply a
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  2. These are my favorite resources for Anatomy & Physiology! I've taught the class since 2010, and it's been an ongoing goal to take a class that can be super heavy lecture-based and make it more interactive as often as possible. This bundle has some video guides for Crash Course videos that I use
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  3. I have been teaching AP Biology since 2014 and have made several resources that really improve my students' understanding of content. Here's a big ol' bundle of those things- see individual products for more info about each. Enjoy!
    Price $107.00Original Price $117.00Save $10.00


Action potentials are HARD to teach. I tried teaching the concepts with POGILs at the AP Bio level (which I LOVE), but I felt that the information was still too abstract and too hard to process for most of the students. Thus, I designed this activity since I couldn't find anything else that I really liked.

This activity requires the assembly of giant neurons (using five 8.5x11 sheets taped end-to-end); if you take a look at my preview file, I have a video in there (or just watch it here) that shows what the final product looks like and the basics of how it is used. The neuron will cost almost nothing- most of the materials can probably be scrounged up around your school. If you have to buy anything (which personally, I did), pieces are inexpensive. Cardstock, fasteners, beads. That's it.

The included documents, if you purchase and download, have all of the pieces that you just need to print, copy, cut, and assemble. Yes, assembly will take you a bit of time, but once you have the models set, you have them for years to come. If you have enough time in your lessons, you can even have students assemble the models for you (I have assistants that did it for me!).

The video also gives you a brief overview of what students will do as they complete the neuron firing. I have a very thorough document that walks the students through everything, with discussion questions to get them thinking, and also summary questions to wrap up the activity at the end. As students progress through the model, they make a graph that represents neuron firing (time vs. millivolts)- I found that this really helped students understand WHY the graph looks like it does, as they tracked and recorded the voltages as the simulation progressed.

My AP students this year said that it really helped them understand the content better. They might have been saying it to just make me happy ;), but I think that they truly meant it.

Check out the preview for more information! Great for Anatomy and Physiology, AP Biology, Honors Biology, and possibly more!

*If you really want to increase their understanding, check out the student-driven modeling version of this project. It uses the same neuron pieces, but puts all the work in the hands of the students! Check it out here!


NOTE: If you do not have a Google account, you will have to make one in order to make a copy of the Google Doc and save it in your Google Drive.

Total Pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
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