K-12, medicine, stem cells, technology

Reaching K-12: Stem Cell Awareness Day

Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 2, is Stem Cell Awareness Day. It’s a day to celebrate stem cells, have discussions of what stem cell research is, and learn about potential benefits and disease treatments using stem cells. If you want to check for local events near you, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has a webpage summarizing events being organized in California and internationally for this special day.

To celebrate Stem Cell Awareness Day, we’ll take a look at accessible stem cell resources for K-12 that can help introduce this cutting-edge field to the next generation. Specifically, we’ll check out some freely available materials from Science Buddies, CIRM, and other sources.

Planaria are often used in K-12 labs to demonstrate their amazing ability to regenerate themselves. (Video credit: Steffen Dietzel)

Science Buddies (a non-profit in K-12 science and engineering education) has several great science fair project ideas for K-12 students related to stem cells (though I’m probably biased since I’m a scientist/writer at Science Buddies and wrote several of these projects):

CIRM offers an entire stem cell curriculum (five units), geared towards high school and early college students, at their Stem Cell Education Portal. Other resources are also available through the Portal.

Lastly, I recently published two biology books, and one of them, Biology Bytes: Digestible Essays on Stem Cells and Modern Medicine, serves as a broad introduction to the stem cell field, as well as other areas of modern medicine.

There’s a wide variety of other stem cell resources online that are helpful for exploring and explaining stem cell concepts to a K-12 audience, including my other blog, All Things Stem Cell, and its Visual Stem Cell Glossary. Although some stem cell concepts are truly complex and may be beyond the scope of a K-12 audience, it is never too soon to plant the seed of interest in, inquiry about, and positive support for stem cell research.


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