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Cell Organelle Speed Dating aka The Best Cell Bio Lesson of the Year!

Every year I look forward to one special day in my Biology class, a day full of fun, corny pick-up lines and "romance" as my students take on the role of organelles and speed date! I like to set the mood with smooth jazz, a fake fireplace on the projector screen and I even decorate the table with scarves, candles and flowers. The atmosphere really makes the activity even more fun.

About a week before speeding dating day I assign my students their organelles so that they have time to prepare their dating profiles and take more detailed notes on the organelle which they have been assigned. You can find a list of organelles that I use in the images below; depending on your class size you may need to add or remove organelles. When assigning organelles to your students this is an excellent opportunity to differentiate, giving more complex or less well known organelles to your students who need a challenge and better known organelles to your students who are already finding the course challenging.

You will also see below the criteria that students need to include in their dating profile, this should be printed or done by hand (as you can see in the example below) and it will take students a bit of time to put this together. During the dating activity they will use their profile to help them act as the organelle, using their properties and structures as part of their personality during their dates.

When dating day finally arrives and the atmosphere is set, it's magic time! I have students come in and enjoy their reactions to the decorations and "mood" I've set and then we get ready for romance! Students sit at the long table (or rearranged lab benches), one opposite the other with their dating profile and some paper and a pen to take notes on their dates (these notes will be needed for their reflection later). I then go through the process of speed dating and what they should do on each date, checking for compatibility and really taking on the role of their organelle (see image below).

I warn the students that I will be eavesdropping on their dates as part of their assessment and that I will set a timer for each date (usually 2 or 3 minutes per date). After each date the students on one side of the long table rotate so that everyone gets at least 6 or 7 different dates. You may find that the speed of the students dates increases as the activity progresses, this is normal and part of the flow as students figure out how to get key information from each other more quickly. When this happens a strategy to try is to encourage pairs who are done with their date to suggest matches for each other. After the full rotation is completed I allow my students to date anyone they missed who they feel like could be a good match for them, as some organelles find matches easier than others.

Once the dating is over it is time for the students to write a reflection which they will submit as part of their graded Cell Speed Dating assignment. Their reflection includes a list of all the organelles they dated, a description of their top 3 matches and a discussion about who their best match is and why. The last and longest part of the reflection is an explanation about how all of the various organelles work together to ensure that the cell can perform all of its functions. I use this as a Communication grade only in my IBDP Biology class, but it could certainly be a Knowledge & Understanding grade in a different Biology course. I have included the assignment below for you to use in your class, it is easy to customize as it is a word document. Enjoy!

DP Bio- Cell Organelle Speed Dating Assignment
Download DOCX • 402KB

Thanks for reading teachers, travelers & curious souls of all kinds.

The Roaming Scientist



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm the kind of teacher who is always trying something new, new labs, new Apps, new scaffolds and even new countries to live and teach in. I'm looking forward to share what I learn with you all through my weekly blog posts. 

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