MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology

ATP: The Fuel of Life

Christian Schubert
Head Teaching Fellow
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA
Manager, PharmaTherapeutics
Precision Medicine
Cambridge, MA

Lesson vetted and approved by CPALMS

The goal of this lesson is to introduce students who are interested in human biology and biochemistry to the subtleties of energy metabolism (typically not presented in standard biology and biochemistry textbooks) through the lens of ATP as the primary energy currency of the cell. Avoiding the details of the major pathways of energy production (such as glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, and oxidative phosphorylation), this lesson is focused exclusively on ATP, which is truly the fuel of life. Starting with the discovery and history of ATP, this lesson will walk the students through 8 segments (outlined below) interspersed by 7 in-class challenge questions and activities, to the final step of ATP production by the ATP synthase, an amazing molecular machine. A basic understanding of the components and subcellular organization (e.g. organelles, membranes, etc.) and chemical foundation (e.g. biomolecules, chemical equilibrium, biochemical energetics, etc.) of a eukaryotic cell is a desired prerequisite, but it is not a must. Through interactive in-class activities, this lesson is designed to spark the students’ interest in biochemistry and human biology as a whole, but could serve as an introductory lesson to teaching advanced concepts of metabolism and bioenergetics in high school depending on the local science curriculum. No supplies or materials are needed.

这节课的目的是通过ATP这个细胞的主要能量货币,向对人体生物学和生物化学感兴趣的学生介绍能量代谢的奇妙 (这一部分内容通常不出现在生物和生物化学的标准教材中),没有涉及能量产生主要途径的细节部分(例如糖酵解,柠檬酸循环,氧化磷酸化),这节课仅仅聚焦在ATP, 真正的生命燃料。从ATP的发现历史开始,这节课将带领学生学习8个部分 (概括如下),每部分之间包含7个具有挑战性的问题和活动,直到由ATP合成酶,这个令人惊叹的分子机器制造出ATP的最后一步。学习这节课,学生最好需要具备一些有关真核细胞的构成和亚细胞组织的基本知识(比如细胞器官,细胞膜等等)以及一定的化学基础(比如生物分子,化学平衡,生化能量学等等),但是这些不是必须的。通过互动性的课堂活动,这节课可以激发学生学习生物化学和人体生物学的兴趣,但是这节课也可以被当作向高中生介绍新陈代谢和生物能量学的高级概念之前的导入课,具体操作视当地学校的科学课程设置情况来定。这节课不需要其它材料。

Christian is a native of Southern Germany and spent his youth in the Lake Constance region bordering Switzerland and Austria. He completed his undergraduate education in Munich, Zurich, and Oxford, and received his PhD in Biological Chemistry from MIT in 2009. As a postdoctoral fellow at Children’s Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School, Christian trained in Neurobiology and Developmental Neurogenetics. He is currently working on elucidating the underlying human biology of neuropsychiatric disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Bipolar Disorder.

Christian 出生在德国南部,并在瑞士和奥地利交界处的康斯坦茨湖区度过了他的少年时光。他在慕尼黑,苏黎士和牛津完成了他的本科教育,并在2009年从MIT获得了生物化学博士学位。之后,他在波士顿儿童医院/哈佛医学院进行博士后研究工作,并接受有关神经生物学以及神经遗传学发展的训练。他现在从事神经精神医学中的人体生物学的研究工作,例如自闭症,抑郁症,精神分裂症,和躁郁症。

This site, sponsored by Interactive Biology: Making Biology Fun, provides a short video explanation of what ATP is and how it works.

This site presents the Khan Academy lesson on ATP.

This site presents the Khan Academy lesson on cellular respiration.

This site, sponsored by the University of North Carolina School of Education, presents a lesson entitled “Is ATP Worth the Investment” that teaches students about ATP using an economic analogy.

This site, Dr. Saul’s Biology in Motion, presents a simple animation explaining how ATP works.


这个网页, Interactive Biology: Making Biology Fun支持赞助,提供了一个简短视频,用来介绍解释什么是ATP以及它是如何发挥作用的。



这个网页,由北卡罗来纳大学教育学院支持赞助,呈现了一节课,课的名称叫做 “ ATP值得投资吗,这节课通过经济类比向学生传授有关ATP的知识。

这个网页,Dr. Saul’s Biology in Motion呈现了一个讲解ATP作用的简单动画。

Title Language Format  
ATP: The Fuel of Life (English, mp4) English MPEG 4 Download
ATP: The Fuel of Life (English, Quicktime) English Quicktime Download
ATP: The Fuel of Life (MandarinVoice-over, mp4) Mandarin Voice-over MPEG 4 Download
ATP: The Fuel of Life (English-Spanish Subtitles, mp4) English-Spanish SubtitlesEnglish-Spanish Subtitles MPEG 4 Download
Add A Comment
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

This Lesson is in the following clusters: Human Anatomy