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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Interactive Hangman teaches amino acid structures and abbreviations

  • Author(s): Pennington, BO
  • Sears, D
  • Clegg, DO
  • et al.

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© 2014 by The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 42(6):495-500, 2014. We developed an interactive exercise to teach students how to draw the structures of the 20 standard amino acids and to identify the one-letter abbreviations by modifying the familiar game of "Hangman." Amino acid structures were used to represent single letters throughout the game. To provide additional practice in identifying structures, hints to the answers were written in "amino acid sentences" for the students to translate. Students were required to draw the structure of the corresponding letter they wished to guess on a whiteboard. Each student received a reference sheet of the structures and abbreviations, but was required to draw from memory when guessing a letter. Preassessments and postassessments revealed a drastic improvement in the students' ability to recognize and draw structures from memory. This activity provides a fun, educational game to play in biochemistry discussion sections or during long incubations in biochemistry laboratories.

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