Date Approved

2021

Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Tom Mast

Second Advisor

Hedeel Guy-Evans

Abstract

Understanding the roles that current, resistance, and capacitance play in neuronal function are important, yet challenging concepts for undergraduate neuroscience students to grasp. Using simple labs and hands-on activities can improve understanding and reduce intimidation. Previously, the Resistance-Capacitance (RC) circuit has been used to create an equivalent model of the neuronal membrane. However, these electrical properties can still be difficult to understand and see in the lab. Here we describe an updated lab exercise where students build an equivalent RC circuit that utilizes a light emitting diode (LED). This allows for students to see the effects of capacitance and resistance within the circuit. Students gain experience with common electrical prototyping tools, such as a multimeter, and with collecting and plotting data. Through completing this classroom exercise, students also gain collaboration, manual dexterity, and problem-solving skills.

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