Natural Killers (& Phagocytes), Pathogens, &–er, Chicken Feet

The last activity of the semester was designed for us by Emma & Achsah in honor of their presentation about immune response.

The motley crew of pathogenic invaders
The motley crew of pathogenic invaders

 

There were two teams: natural killers & pathogenic invaders.

The objective of the pathogens is to infect the cells, which are tubs guarded by the immune system, by placing colored balloons in them.

Immunoglobulin A, ready to take on all comers
Immunoglobulin A, ready to take on all comers

Each member of the immune system is a different immunoglobulin, represented by the colored toothpicks they carry.  The objective of the immune system is to kill the pathogens that try to infect the cells , which they do by popping the balloons with colored toothpicks.  They can only hold a limited number of colored toothpicks & can only pop balloons with toothpicks of the corresponding color.

The immune system's secret weapon, a phagocyte
The immune system’s secret weapon, “The Sheriff.” The Sheriff is a phagocyte, which are cells that protect the body by ingesting harmful foreign particles.

The immune system gets one additional weapon in the form of a phagocyte, which can capture any pathogen with a hula hoop & pop any balloon with any colored toothpick.  Furthermore, it can put the phagocyte in “jail,” & that pathogen can only be retrieved by sacrificing a balloon.

Cells festering with little baby pathogens after their parents had a successful day at work
Cells festering with little baby pathogens after their parents had a successful day at work

After each round, both teams get to “adapt,” by devising one method by which to skirt the defenses they previously encountered in the opposing team.

The immunoglobulins pointing out the pathogenic invaders they were about to take down
The immunoglobulins pointing out the pathogenic invaders they were about to take down

This game was a lot of fun.  The pathogens won most rounds, as in real life, but generally did not kill the host, also as in real life.  Occasionally, such as when the immune system could muster enough energy to create an additional phagocyte, the balance was tipped to the side of the immune system.  Other times, the immune system was battered (panting, a pulled muscle, toothpick-gouged arms).

This game is not recommended for small children or people with eyes, as the toothpicks become a bit unruly.

A delicious peppered chicken foot treat that we all shared.
A delicious peppered chicken foot treat that we all shared.

After about an hour, both teams retreated to the classroom for a nice snack of peppered chicken foot, provided by Kelsey.

Kelsey eats a chicken foot
Mmm, that chicken claw looks delicious. These were awesome, Kelsey. Thanks!

 

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