In my freshman year of high school, I had a biology teacher who was very brilliant but simultaneously very nutty. He had a bizarre mnemonic for every basic biological process you can imagine. He made us memorize the formula for photosynthesis and respiration by singing it. That's how nutty he was. (I won't complain, because I got a 4 on the AP exam three years later, mostly because of what I still remembered from his class.)

This guy collected lava lamps in one corner of the classroom; he had about five. He didn't explain the lava lamps until halfway through the semester, when we were learning about cells.

"You see," he said, "I went to Spencer's Gifts one day" (and I can't imagine what kind of crazy stuff he intended to get there) "and saw the lava lamps on one wall. And you know the first thing that came into my mind?" (pause for dramatic effect) "GOLGI BODY!" he shouted, causing the first row to jump out of their seats slightly.

He then proceeded to dim the lights and fire up one of the lava lamps. "Imagine, if you will, that the bottom of the lamp is the outside of the cell, and the top of the lamp is the inside of the cell."

As he was saying this, the blob of wax in the middle of the lava lamp was morphing about, and we could see exactly what he was talking about. A big chunk of molten wax would break off, float to the bottom, come back up, merge with the rest of the blob, re-emerge on top, and float to the top of the lamp before coming down again.

Never before or since had cellular function ever seemed so tangible to me or to the rest of us. So now, when I hear the word "Golgi," I can't help but think of that crazy guy and his lava lamps. Which, I suppose, is what makes someone a truly great teacher.