LESSON 1 – The climbing assay: learning data analysis through live experiments with fruit flies

Quick page accessassayneuro & ageingdefinitionsneuro & fliesstatistics

TrinityHighAuthors: Patrick Strangward (FBMH), Catherine Alnuamaani (Trinity), Sanjai Patel (FBMH), Andreas Prokop (FBMH)

Get this lesson & adjunct materials: download “KS3-ClimbingAssay-package.zip” from our figshare site

Curriculum relevance: data analysis skills, ability to organise experimental data into tables and graphs, interpret trends in data, understanding the importance of statistics and sample size

Summary: A simple, enjoyable practical and lesson for Key Stage 3 students. Students examine the relationship between ageing and mobility using Drosophila. Old and young flies are knocked to the bottom of their respective tubes in front of a climbing wall. After 15 seconds a picture is taken allowing students to score the respective mobility of each fly. Students plot these data whilst the teacher draws each student’s data into a custom-made Excel spreadsheet. Individual plots can then be compared to the plotted cumulative data, making the importance of statistics and sample size unmistakably clear. The climbing assay is being actively utilised during contemporary ageing and neurodegeneration research, so that students can appreciate the fundamental importance of these skills for real-world research; suitable explanations are provided in the lesson which also introduce to concepts of ageing and neurodegeneration.

Support pages for this practical and lesson:

  1. How is the experiment done and how can it be used in schools? -> GO
  2. What is it about? This experiment is used for research on ageing and neurodegenerative diseases. -> GO
  3. What do all the used terms mean? Researchers use often words that mean little to the lay person; find some definitions of such words regarding the brain, ageing and neurodegeneration (Tip: the definitions site will open in a new tab; just drag it out of the browser into a separate window, displayed on screen in parallel whilst reading the next pages) -> GO
  4. How can flies help with research on ageing and neurodegenerative diseases? Find important explanations and examples how the fly has helped already -> GO
  5. How is it analysed? The analysis of the climbing assay requires data description and statistics; we provide a crash course -> GO
Please, help us further improve this resource by sending any comments, corrections, suggestions to Andreas.Prokop@manchester.ac.uk.

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