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Stem Cells and Smart Materials

Graduate Fellow Ameya Phadke and Teacher Partner Ryan Benedict

This lesson plan allows students to develop an understanding of how cells can respond to changes in their environment, with an emphasis on stem cells. Particular attention is paid to developing an understanding of cell signaling mechanisms and how various organelles function together along with the central dogma (DNA-RNA-protein) to allow cells to respond to their environment. As an extension, this lesson plan also explores how such mechanisms can be used to control stem cell behavior. The various concepts behind stem cell research and embryogenesis are then visited. This lesson plan introduces these relatively complicated concepts via kinesthetic activities designed to engage students while still presenting substantial information. Specifically, the concept of cell signaling is presented via a competitive team activity, wherein students enact the cell signaling mechanism and compete against each other to produce protein. The stem cell activity is presented via a game wherein students reach enact a stem cell, look at the various factors that go into determining their fate and then get to see how based on a variety of sequential decisions, produce cells specific to several tissues. Finally students are introduced to the perception of stem cell research in the mass media and are encouraged to engage in a healthy discussion regarding the topic with their peers to dispel myths about it.

Download Lesson Plan