Publication Date



PowerPoint workshop presentation.


Have you ever blown a soap bubble and wondered - what causes the bubble to be so stable and produces those colorful reflections of light? The answer lies in a class of molecules known as surfactants, and they have remarkable similarities with the molecules that comprise the cell membrane of all living organisms. In this workshop, we will use the analogy of a soap bubble to describe cellular membrane properties such as chemistry, structure, membrane transport, and ion channel formation. The goals of this workshop are to 1) link initially intractable concepts in biology like intracellular transport to the intuitive soap bubble to spur student interest and inquiry, 2) impart critical thinking and group collaboration skills through hands-on activities designed to reinforce and extend student comprehension and 3) establish lesson plans for learning activities that can be adapted to a wide range of classes (physics, biology, chemistry) and educational levels (K-12). By demonstrating membrane processes using the tangible and familiar soap film, this workshop is highly accessible and has the added advantage that all materials can be purchased from a grocery store. In addition, new developments in cutting-edge experimental techniques for studying membrane processes and fabricating biomimetic materials will be discussed to link fundamental concepts to current research at UMass and elsewhere.