Author: Joyce Buda


Week 2 - The molecules of life - macromolecule analogies
This week you learned about the 4 types of biological macromolecules: lipids, carbohydrates, proteins and nucleic acids. In a nutshell, a macromolecule is a very large molecule consisting of many smaller structural units linked together (like how a train is made up multiple cars linked together). All biological macromolecules are made up of a small number of elements: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur. All cells and their organelles are made up of these four macromolecules and each type has its own specific properties and functions.
In order to help you remember the different types of macromolecules and their general structure and function, I would like you to create 2 different types of analogies for each type of macromolecule (a total of 8 analogies).
1) Create an analogy for the structure of the macromolecule (i.e. compare the what the macromolecule physically looks like to something you can relate to). For example: proteins are like corded phones (for those of you that grew up with one...). The primary structure is when you pull the cord straight. The secondary structure is the actual coiled cord (it looks like the helix/coil structure). The tertiary structure forms when the cord becomes twisted on itself (for those of you that had a 10-foot cord and used to walk around the room - remember how much fun that was to untangle?). Finally, the quaternary structure is when that phone cord becomes tangled with other cables (I know I'm really dating myself here... but for those of you who had dial-up internet and had your phone/modem right next to your desktop computer). Or nucleic acids are like a spiral staircase, where each rung is like a pair of joined nucleotides. Please note that you should have a total of 4structural analogies - one for each macromolecule (carbohydrates, nucleic acids, proteins, lipids).
2) Create an analogy for the function of the macromolecule. For example: Macromolecules are like a family. The proteins are like the mother because she regulates the chores the kids have to do (i.e. like enzymes or regulatory proteins). Lipids are like the children because they have lots of energy (fats provide the highest concentration of energy of all nutrients). Carbohydrates are like the father because he pays the bills and keeps everything in order (carbohydrates are the primary source of ATP - the cell's energy currency, and they are also an important structural component). Nucleic acids are like both the mother and the father because the children look like them (nucleic acids make up DNA and RNA - the hereditary material).
Be creative in your analogies! You can make them all the same theme or 8 completely different analogies. 

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