BioBeyond Unit 5: Into the Cell

Helpful information and troubleshooting tips on the lessons: Into the Animal Cell, Into the Plant Cell, Into the Bacteria Cell

Into the Cell Navigation

Simulation technical note

This unit uses innovative game-like graphics to provide a fun and meaningful experience while you learn how cells work. Because of the graphics, the simulation takes time to load, up to several minutes on slower connections. On older computers, the simulation may stutter or play slowly. 

How to navigate the Animal Cell simulation

You can watch this video that explains the different parts of the simulation. We recommend starting here for a quick orientation. Below is a list of the basics:

  • Quests: The quest box in the upper right corner shows your current quest. Once you complete a quest, you are awarded 70 points, and the box updates with your next quest. There are a total of 7 quests.
  • Movement: Click and drag your mouse to look around. Click the big blue arrows to move to different locations.
  • Inventory: The circle in the lower left can hold molecules, enabling you to take them to different locations and solve quests. You can have more than one kind of each molecule in the inventory.

  • Dragging: You can drag and drop molecules into the inventory, and then drag them out onto parts of the cell later. When you drag a molecule onto a part of the cell that it doesn’t interact with, it will display a hint about where you should take it.

  • Map: When you click the Mission Control button in the upper left, you’ll see a blank map
    of the cell. This part of the lesson is worth 100 points and must be completed before the final quest. To complete the cell map and receive your points, you need to correctly drag in the 5 cell structures and organelles, name them and identify their functions.

 When you are in the nucleus. The polymerase enzyme (the orange structure around the DNA) requires energy to function. In the bottom left-hand corner is your collection of energy molecules. Make sure you click on the “Energy” icon in the inventory to show your collected energy molecules.

Next, drag and drop a yellow ATP molecule into the enzyme to activate it. This will produce an RNA copy of the gene you are trying to eventually make a protein of. Click on the RNA copy and drag it into your inventory. You will need to add ATP later on in the simulation when you are at the ribosome.

​For the ribosome to translate the RNA code into protein it needs ATP energy. Make sure to drop the yellow ATP molecule into the ribosome already containing the red RNA string.

Adding energy will power the ribosome to begin the RNA translation process.

How to navigate the Plant and Bacteria Cells

You will navigate the plant and bacteria cells just like you did in the animal cell. The only difference is that you will not need to complete a mission. Just explore and learn about the different organelles and their functions! Once you feel like you have an understanding of the plant and bacteria cells, make sure you complete the cell map in the upper left-hand corner of each lesson as it is worth 100 points!


I’ve finished the animal cell but I am missing 100 points

Did you remember to complete the cell map in Mission Control? That activity is worth 100 points. When you click the Mission Control button in the upper left (the cell map icon), you’ll see a blank map of the cell. To complete this and receive your points, you need to drag in the 5 cell structures and organelles, name them, and identify their functions correctly. If you already completed the lesson you can restart it and complete the quests and map again to recoup those 100 points.

I can't see the 'X' to close the cell map

If you're unable to close the cell map, there are a couple of workarounds you can try. The instructions below work for both Chrome and Firefox.

To enter full screen:

  1. If you're using Windows or Chrome OS, press F11.
  2. On a Mac, press Control + Command + F.

To exit full screen:

  1. If you're using Windows or Chrome OS, press F11 again.
  2. On a Mac, press Control + Command + F again.

In both cases, you can also use the menu options:

To enter full screen:

  1. Click on the three vertical dots "⋮" in the top-right corner of Chrome (the Chrome menu). In Firefox, you will click the three vertical bars "☰."
  2. In the dropdown menu, find "Zoom" and then click on the square icon to the right (it will be labeled "Fullscreen" when you hover over it). In Firefox, the fullscreen icon is two diagonal arrows pointing towards opposite corners.

To exit full screen:

  1. Move your cursor to the top of your screen.
  2. In Chrome, you should see an 'X' at the top center of your screen. 
  3. Clicking the 'X' will exit fullscreen. 
  4. In Firefox, moving your cursor to the top of your screen will allow you to access the menu "☰."
  5. Open the menu, and click the two diagonal arrows pointing towards each other. 

I’m inside the animal cell but I don’t know where to go, I keep clicking the sugar but it doesn’t take me anywhere.

Think of this lesson as a video game. We encourage you to click around and explore nature. It would not be fun if we told you what to do step by step, and you wouldn’t learn as much that way. We understand getting used to this style of the lesson can take a little time so to help you get started see below how to get started with breaking down the food molecule.

If you hover on any white circle you will see a description of the object pop-up. Below we can see a description of the blue food molecule. In the upper right corner, there are instructions to bring the food molecule into the cell. You will need to click on the food molecule and drag it into the channel conveniently marked with a blue arrow. You will have to click on the channel to get inside the cell.

Once you are inside the cell, save the food molecule into your storage area in the bottom left-hand corner. To make it easier for yourself to move around the cell with the molecules you need, get in the habit of saving them here.

This part is important: The cell cannot use the food molecule as is but must break it down first. Be sure to look around the cell and read the organelle descriptions to find the glycolysis enzyme. This is where the initial breakdown of glucose occurs. Below you will see it as a yellow y-shaped structure. Drag your blue food molecule from your storage area and drop it into the little notch on the enzyme.

The glycolysis enzyme will break down the food molecule into 2 pyruvate molecules (light blue). You will need to save these into your energy storage area and find the organelle that will break down the pyruvate into the ATP energy the cell needs to run its processes.

Once you find the mitochondrion you will need to drag and drop the pyruvate molecules into the organelle so that it can carry out cellular respiration and produce the ATP you need.

Just like you did with the food molecule and pyruvate molecules you will collect three ATP energy molecules (yellow molecule) and place them in your storage area.

You’ll have to use these energy molecules to complete the next quest in the cell’s nucleus.

Do I have to complete a mission in the plant cell or bacterial cell?

Nope! There is only a mission in the Animal Cell. In the plant and bacterial cells, all you need to do is explore their structure and complete their respective maps.


The total number of points you can earn for Unit 5: Into the Cell is 850. For a lesson by lesson, breakdown see the table below

NOTE: The Into the Animal Cell lesson is worth 650 total points broken down as follows:

  • Each of the 7 quests is worth 70 points for a total of 490.
  • The map in Mission Control is worth 100 points. All cell structures must be placed, named, and both functions supplied before the full 100 points are awarded.
  • There are several screens following the simulation, worth 60 points total.