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Fats’ love–hate relationships: a molecular dynamics simulation and hands-on experiment outreach activity to introduce the amphiphilic nature and biological functions of lipids to young students and the general public

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Tascini et al 2020 Journal of Chemical Education_Accepted Manuscript.pdfFile embargoed until 13 April 202113.37 MBAdobe PDF    Request a copy
ed9b00776_si_001.pdfFile embargoed until 13 April 202119.17 MBAdobe PDF    Request a copy
ed9b00776_si_003.mp4File embargoed until 13 April 202114.86 MBUnknown    Request a copy
Title: Fats’ love–hate relationships: a molecular dynamics simulation and hands-on experiment outreach activity to introduce the amphiphilic nature and biological functions of lipids to young students and the general public
Authors: Tascini, AS
Wang, S
Seddon, JM
Bresme, F
Chen, R
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Lipids are fundamental components of biological organisms and have important applications in the pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetics industries. Thus, it is important that young students and the general public properly understand the basic properties of lipids and how these relate to their biological and industrial roles. Here, we use molecular dynamics computer simulations and a simple, safe, and inexpensive popular hands-on activity, to communicate to participants why and how lipid molecules play a fundamental role in all living organisms and in our bodies. The activity is called “Fats’ Love–Hate Relationships”, to highlight how the different parts of amphiphilic lipids interact with water. This “love–hate relationship” is vital to the biological functions of lipids and drives the formation of lipid structures that can be visualized at molecular scale with the computer simulations. The participants were encouraged to investigate the interactions between milk lipids and soap surfactants, creating beautiful complex artwork that they could then take home. The hands-on activity was accompanied by a video of a molecular simulation that illustrates milk–soap interactions at a molecular scale and helps to explain how the amphiphilicity of lipids creates the beautiful artwork at a molecular level. The outreach activity has been performed in science festivals and in classrooms and has been well received by participants of all ages with multiple learner comprehension levels (primary and secondary school students and the general public). By combining molecular simulation, explanations of the amphiphilic structure of the lipids, and an engaging hands-on activity, we explained how lipids interact with water and surfactants and inspired discussions on the link between the structure of the lipids and their biological function, namely, their structural and protective roles as a key component of cell membranes.
Issue Date: 12-May-2020
Date of Acceptance: 1-Apr-2020
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/78078
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.9b00776
ISSN: 0021-9584
Publisher: American Chemical Society (ACS)
Start Page: 1360
End Page: 1367
Journal / Book Title: Journal of Chemical Education
Volume: 97
Issue: 5
Copyright Statement: © 2020 American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc. This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in Journal of Chemical Education, after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.9b00776
Sponsor/Funder: Commission of the European Communities
Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC)
Funder's Grant Number: 608184
EP/J003859/1
Keywords: 03 Chemical Sciences
13 Education
Education
Publication Status: Published
Embargo Date: 2021-04-13
Article Number: acs.jchemed.9b00776
Online Publication Date: 2020-04-13
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Engineering
Chemistry
Chemical Engineering
Faculty of Natural Sciences