Now that you have learned about synaptic transmission, you will do a research project that will not only draw on your independent research abilities, but also on your artistic and creative skills! As an overview, for this assignment you will create a “MicroZine” in which you will communicate some information you have learned about your neurotransmitter of choice.
So what’s a “MicroZine”? ‘Zines are short, handmade magazines that usually revolve around a single topic. They are often distributed for free, or for a small price, and typically have some artistic element to them. MicroZines are a type of zine you can make from a single, folded piece of paper. The Small Science Collective curates the best science foldable zine collection I’ve seen on the web. You can download, print and fold all of these from their site.
Why a MicroZine? Part of learning about science is learning to communicate science. This very constrained format, forces you to crystallize the information you have researched to the absolute most important points you need to convey your message. It also makes you think about creative ways to communicate complicated concepts.
1. Click here and go to the Small Science Collective site. Take your time and have a look around so you can get an idea of what your final assignment will look like.
2. Click here and read the following document for detailed instructions on how to fold your own MicroZine. These instructions also give you some general guidance when thinking about content.
3. Now for the research part. You will have to do some independent research about a neurotransmitter of your choice. If you are having problems deciding which to pick, some popular ones are: glutamate, GABA, dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, histamine, substance-P, oxytocin, etc. The Neurotransmitter article in Wikipedia also has a fairly comprehensive list.
- Good sources for this are the textbook (if you have it), Wikipedia, the Neuroscience Online textbook, or any neuropharmacology text you find at your local library, etc.
4. Once you have picked a transmitter, you need to collect the following information and answer the following set of 6 questions:
- What class of neurotransmitter does it belong to (eg. monoamines, peptides, etc.)? What is it’s molecular/chemical structure?
- What is it’s main action in the brain? (eg. is it excitatory, inhibitory, slow modulation). What brain regions is it found in?
- What is its main function in the brain? (eg. transmitting information, regulating sleep, stress, etc.)
- What are it’s main types of receptors? What do they do?
- What drugs/agents (pharmacological or drugs of abuse) act on this neurotransmitter system?
- What is one fun/interesting/little known fact about this neurotransmitter?
5. After gathering your research, put together your own MicroZine. Make sure to click here for instructions on folding.
- First, draw a funky cover showing the title of your ‘zine (eg. Snazzy Serotonin, Glutamate Madness, etc.) and your name.
- On each of the six pages incorporate the research information you collected for the 6 questions above. Feel free to organize this information however you want.
- On the back cover, make sure you write down your sources that you used to get your information.
- You can hand-draw your 'Zine, use a computer, or some combination of both. Whatever you prefer. If you do print it out as a single sheet, make sure you orient the content properly.
- As an example, I’m including a MicroZine I made for the neurotransmitter GABA at the bottom of this page. Or click here to download my 'Zine. Feel free to make yours much fancier than mine (mine is just a quick example I drew up)! For further inspiration you can browse the zine library at the Small Science Collective.
6. Once your Zine is done, please scan it using a scanner (not a camera) and save the image as a .pdf or .jpeg file. Make sure to name the file 'YourLastName.Zine.pdf' or 'YourLastName.Zine.jpeg.'
7. Click your section's blog in the navigation column on the left.
8. Create a blog post and upload your 'Zine. Make sure to write a few sentences describing a little bit about your Zine:
- What neurotransmitter did you choose and why?
- What message did you try to convey?
- Describe a little bit about your creative process too, why you designed it like you did, what look were you going for, etc.
9. Comment on two other zines from your peers and reply to any comments on yours.
10. Lastly, return to this page, click '+Submit Assignment' and enter the url of the blog containing your zine.
Example, "Yo Gaba, Gaba":