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Bringing Molecular Biology to Life – by Mark Hynd

Mar 26,2014 by Edulab

In my opinion the textbook Molecular Biology of THE CELL by Alberts et al is probably the best textbook of its type.  It takes an incredibly broad subject and explains it beautifully.  Particularly powerful is its use of diagrams to simplify and communicate the difficult concepts that it seeks to explain.  I first came across it when tutoring a young undergraduate who needed help with her first year exams at Oxford.  Without it I would have had to use my rather jaded textbooks that I possessed at the time and they were not up to the task.  As you read through the book, the code and method of representation they use becomes apparent and you feel that this is the by far the best way to convey the mechanisms of molecular biology to students.  However, when you are a school teacher moving from classroom to classroom with impatient students in front of you, beautiful drawings which come to life in front of the class are not easy.  What you need is a kit.  Something you can pack up, then as you move to the next class, take out and stick on the screen without any great effort or protracted time involved.

As a teacher of Chemistry I had my Molymods and some other teaching aids.

For my Biology colleagues, however, representing a plasma membrane required a lot of drawing by the teacher and copying by the students or reference to textbooks to which the teacher needed to add something extra.  That was before the Virtmac series of teaching aids came into existence. With a pair of scissors, some Velcro and sticky magnetic strips this marvellous set of plastic depictions of membranes, proteins, RNA, DNA and ions comes to life.  The teacher simply places the parts onto the board and voil molecular biology comes alive.  The teacher is now in control no deferring to a computer simulation, he/she can use their own devices to represent a cellular process.  Yes, it is the embodiment of book Molecular Biology of THE CELL and its didactic philosophy!

The Virtmac Teaching aids are here on the website click here  to find out more. There are 3 Membranes and proteins; RNA and DNA and protein conformations.  On Amazon I would give it 5/5.

Read more of Mark Hynd’s blog posts on

Who is Mark Hynd? Mark Hynd is the CEO of a company called Edulab that specialises in laboratory equipment and consumables.