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If you build it, they will learn

With the magnets, I was able to actually see the reaction and process taking place right before eyes. For once, I was able to fully understand what was going on in the process instead of just memorizing a bunch of words out of the text book.” – Sara Michienzi, Student

Clever Catch
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  • The most cost effective biology teaching models on the market
  • Easily demonstrate dynamic and complex cell processes
  • Covers curriculum from ages 12 - 18
  • Students love to touch and manipulate the model
  • Can be used to teach 30 different lessons and more
  • This model will adapt as the curriculum changes

(Visual Interactive Revolutionary Tactile Magnetic Classroom) represents the modern evolution of the classroom learning experience. Offering a comprehensive teaching tool designed for simplified instruction, VIRTmac will transform the way you teach biology. A series of magnetic models demonstrate how cthe same molecules are used over and over again in different biological processes, giving students a more complete visual picture of cell biology.

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VIRTmac DNA/RNA Protein Kit

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VIRTmac DNA/RNA Protein Kit
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Product ID - VMK2

Was $165.00 20% off now = $132.00

VIRTmac Protein Folding Enzyme Kit
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Product ID - VMK3

Was $94.00 20% off now = $75.20



What is VIRTmac?

Story 1 - The evolution of VIRTmac.


My name is John MacLellan. I have been teaching high school biology for the past 30 years in London, Ontario, Canada. It was the first week on March 2005 on a Saturday afternoon when I decide to go into my classroom and work on a new idea I had on how to teach the Kreb Cycle to my grade 12 biology class. My idea was to put small magnets on the back of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, along with Co-A, and some prototype proteins. I also type out some key terms in 200 font size and placed magnetics on these key terms. The purpose of placing small magnets on the back of each molecule and term was to allow me to place, stick, display and manipulate each molecule and term on my black board in any sequence, position and pace that I wanted to. This gave me enormous flexibility during my lesson. I then practiced how I would teach the Kreb cycle using my new prototype "magnetic" models. When the students entered class on Monday (two days later) the black board was empty and the overhead screen was taken down. I told the students to take out a blank sheet of paper (understand at this point in the course I was producing a template handout for each lesson that the students would fill in as I worked on the overhead - much like power point lessons today) and write down the title of today’s lesson The Kreb Cycle." My instructions were: "build in your note what I build on the board". As I then built, in front of them, with them, on the black board, the first two molecules that start the Kreb cycle I could feel a focus from the students that was unlike anything I had felt during my first 21 years of teaching. At this moment, my teaching life transformed. The students informed me after this first lesson that I needed to teach this way for my next lesson and that forced me to create a prototype lesson for the ETC. For the remained of the semester I worked until 7:00 p.m. after school each day and on the weekends producing new “magnetic cell biology lessons” for my grade 12 biology students. Around the middle of May 2005 I realized that what I was building each day for each new lesson was connected and long story short I now had a clear vision of a new, one of a kind, unifying cell biology manipulative model that allowed me to teach biology in a hands on, interactive way.

Two years later I was presenting my hand built cell biology magnetic models at a conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and I was asked by a representative from the US company, VWR if I they could distribute my magnetic models. I said, without hesitation yes. Now I needed to come up with a name for my new company and that is when Bianca, one of my biology students at the time, hands me a piece of paper with VIRTmac written on it. I asked Bianca what each letter in VIRTmac stands for and her answer was:

Visual, Interactive, Revolutionary, Magnetic, Classroom and there you have it!

John MacLellan

Story 2 - Why Teach with VIRTmac?

Hello. My name is John MacLellan. I have been teaching high school biology for the past 30 years in London, Ontario, Canada. In 2005 I created a new hands on, one of a kind, magnetic manipulative set of cell biology teachings models that developed into the company VIRTmac. You can view my VIRTmac models at:

Why would you, as a biology teacher want to teach with my VIRTmac models? It is very difficult for me to explain in words what is like for me and my students when I teach using my VIRTmac models. Imagine trying to understand music without listening to music! In order for any teacher to full understand the power of teaching with my VIRTmac models they need to teach with VIRTmac. I am convinced when you do teach with VIRTmac you will hear and feel the music. This music is a sound of focus, calmness, curiosity, questions, individual responsibility and understanding.

VIRTmac is a cell biology model consisting of many different parts that can be sequenced together in any combination. The most powerful model I am aware of is language. Clearly the word "tree" is not a tree. The word tree is a powerful model because we all know what a tree is.

What I learned in my first in 22 years of teaching biology was that students did not understand cells and all the cool mechanisms within and between cells because they could not see the fundamental parts of all cells. When I created VIRTmac my students and myself had a common model that we could build on, take apart, see, feel and touch. This allowed my students to step into the molecular world of a cell and begin their journey at piecing together their understanding of how cells function. In short, VIRTmac is the first and only unifying cell biology model in the world. I hope you join my VIRTmac team and start to teach your cell biology lessons using VIRTmac. Enjoy!

John MacLellan

VIRTmac Founder, Biology Teacher - VIRTmac

If you build it, they will learn


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1) Conversation between VIRTmac and Mickey Parris I just wanted to tell you that using your learning tools, the DNA modeling kit, during a demo lesson designed for an in inclusion class helped me get another teaching position. The science coordinator said she hopes to see those same models in my honors classroom that I was just hired to teach. I look forward to using them with greater frequency.

2) Dear John,

I have all three of your kits and I have used them regularly for five years now. They have revolutionized my Biology instruction and I love them! I have my students draw intricate sketches of aerobic cellular respiration, Photosynthesis, DNA replication, and protein synthesis. I even made up a game using your protein molecules to simulate protein synthesis inspired by your lesson. My students have given me great feedback regarding how their sketches have helped them in university Biology.

I really don't know how I would teach Biology without your kits! I am ordering these two kits so my school can have them since the original ones I have I paid for out of my personal finances.

I always review with your DVD lessons each year. Thank you for this excellent teaching tool! Sincerely, Jocelyn Paas

3)Subject: Thanks for sharing Magnet Teaching!

Hi Denise & John

Thank you so much for your openness and generosity by sharing your incredible teaching idea with me!

It was the best PD I've been exposed to in years! I've flown to Colorado to learn about flipped classroom, I've been part of numerous sessions on blended learning, seen countless presentations at STAO over the years and I have been to Space Camp teacher training at NASA but I have to tell you that your magnet teaching idea blows them all away!

It was totally worth driving 5 hours across Ontario to witness!

I have to say that the magnet teaching idea is beyond incredible! For someone who has been teaching science for 20 years and seen educational ideas come and go, it was refreshing to see your idea which I have to say is probably the best kept secret in science education right now and deserves a much wider audience and group of practitioners.

I have been completely re-energized by magnet teaching. I should have been cutting the lawn and other things outside this weekend but I am so excited about the magnet teaching idea that I have spent most of this weekend running back and forth to Staples to print off various iterations of atoms, ions and other things that I hope to turn into magnet manipulatives (I'm calling these M&Ms...ha ha ha). I will be sharing these with you once I feel that they are up to standard...right now they are still in the an embryonic stage. I am also having more fun planning lessons using the magnet idea than I have ever had as a teacher. I wish I had know about this years ago.

John, your lesson on cell senescence and the Hayflick Limit was brilliant! I don't have a biology background but I completely understood your lesson. It was amazingly clear. Had you not already won the Prime Minsters Award, I would have nominated you on Friday! It was easy to see watching you teach how you had already won that teaching award.

Denise, your lesson on battle of the electrons was incredible! It completely blew me away how you constructed it and more importantly how your students were intuitively developing concepts in one lesson (bonding, nomenclature, limiting reactant!) that I would take weeks to develop in a more traditional way (and not be entirely successful with). That sold me on the magnet teaching idea. As a department head who is so supportive of John's magnet teaching and challenging yourself to try new ideas and to teach in new ways, you have my utmost respect. It was so wonderful to see this and is very inspiring. I only wish that I could work in your department. It would be an amazing experience.

Your students are incredibly lucky to have you both as teachers! On a Friday before a long weekend, I was stunned to see how engaged they were in both of your classes. I was also amazed how you both have taken the student teacher Bailey under your wings and patiently shared with her the magnet teaching idea. It speaks to your generosity and professionalism which are of the highest caliber.

By the end of the day I became a complete convert to magnet teaching.

I really think that more could and should be done to generate interest and get more teachers on board with your idea. Your school/board could be a leader with this teaching idea. One suggestion would be to perhaps offer some sort of teacher training workshop through your school/board or through OTF during the summer. I have signed up for a 3 day physics session through OTF this summer in Sudbury. I know that if you offered something like this to teach magnet teaching to teachers, you would be the most popular and most talked about session going.

I am also going to be spending a week to do more physics teacher training at the Perimeter Institute this summer. I will be taking your magnet teaching idea with me and whenever I can, I will be sharing and promoting it with fellow colleagues. I think that the word needs to be spread through social networking and your school/board communications department. Magnet teaching is an idea too good to stay hidden like this.

Thanks again for allowing me into your classrooms on Friday. I hope to stay in touch and to learn more about magnet teaching from both of you in the future. cheers, Niels Niels Walkau Science Department CDCIWest Cobourg, Ontario