With new developments in stem cell biology happening all the time, high school and undergraduate biology teachers are constantly challenged with the prospect of integrating stem cells into their lesson plans. Teachers and students at last week’s StemCellTalks event in Toronto got a first look at a new media-rich resource to help educators fit stem cell science into their curricula.
StemCellSchool.org is a joint project of the Genetics Policy Institute (GPI), the Stem Cell Network, and Radiant 3-D that offers educators a single destination for the latest in stem cell science packaged in interactive animations, lesson plans, and presentation materials. The content was developed in collaboration with the National Association of Biology Teachers, and based largely around high school biology textbooks, including Biology by Neil A. Campbell and Jane B. Reece.
The idea, according to Robert Margolin, associate director at GPI, is to offer teachers an easy way to incorporate stem cells into their lesson plans—without sacrificing the timeliness of the information.
“We tried to create a resource that provides teachers not only with information about stem cells, but information that overlaps the topics they need to teach in their classrooms,” Margolin explained. “We chose the topic of induced pluripotent stem cells as our first lesson because it talks a lot about genetics, reprogramming factors and retroviruses; there’s a whole array of biology topics that teachers need to talk about that exist within the science of cellular reprogramming.”
Stem Cell School is not tailored to any specific curriculum, but lesson plans run across themes that biology educators present to their students.
“We compared curriculums in different states and countries in order to see what they were doing in different jurisdictions and from this, we came to the conclusion that in any biology classroom that’s teaching cellular biology and molecular biology there are certain fundamental topics that need to be taught,” Margolin said.
Although it’s now officially launched, the Stem Cell School is far from finished. New lessons, lesson plans, presentation materials, and other information will be continually added and updated, with the first full lesson plan scheduled for release on April 15.
View the animation of cell reprogramming:
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