STEM CELL RESEARCH: THE DEBATE OVER EMBRYONIC AND ADULT STEM CELL USE
Subjects: Biology, General Science, Ethics
Time: Two to three 50-minute class periods plus additional time for presentations and extension activities
Case for Adult Stem Cell Research"
Cell News That Isn't Fit For Print"
On the other side of the issue is the use of adult stem cells for research. Adult stem cells are available from a variety of sources including blood from the umbilical cord, the placenta, bone marrow, and even human fat. However, they are relatively hard to find and extract from some of these sources and do not always thrive well when cultured. In addition, they may have some limitations in the type of tissues they are able to form. For many years, adult stem cells have been used to provide a number of different therapies to people with a relatively high rate of success. Recent research has shown that adult stem cells taken from one area of the body are able to regenerate and form tissues of a different kind. In addition to the proven therapies and research, the use of adult stem cells from a patient's own body decreases the risk of rejection because the cells are not seen as foreign invaders.
in all, many scientists believe that the use of adult stem cells should be the
primary focus of stem cell research based on past success, lower chances of patient
rejection, and the idea that adult stem cell research does not spark the moral,
ethical, and political debate seen so frequently when the use of embryonic stem
cells is considered.
2. Now have students open their eyes. Do not allow them to talk. Instead, ask them to answer each of the three questions below with the first ideas that come to mind. Read each question individually and give students approximately 60 seconds to record their ideas.
3. Facilitate a class discussion about the medical technology breakthroughs described in step 1 using the questions from step 2. Have students discuss their ideas related to each question without telling them you are talking about stem cell research. Limit discussion on each question to 3-5 minutes.
4. Upon completion of class discussion, students should be very interested in what form of medical research could someday offer these kinds of results. Introduce students to stem cells by creating a graphic organizer (See Sample) to help them learn about what stem cells do and how embryonic and adult stem cells differ at a very basic level. Address the following topics in class discussion:
5. Next, place students in pairs or small groups for their Fact Finding Mission. Explain that each pair/group will have one class period to learn as much as they can about stem cells and stem cell research. Using the Fact Finding Worksheet and research resources such as the Internet and other library resources, have the groups work to gather the answers to each question. Stress the importance of documenting sources and recording information correctly. Students should be prepared to share what they learn from their Fact Finding Mission.
6. Once students have completed the research, facilitate a class discussion about what was learned. Create two graphic organizers in the process. Make a Pro and Con list related to the use of stem cells and stem cell research. Create a Venn Diagram showing the similarities and differences between research on and the use of adult stem cells vs. embryonic stem cells. Do this on an overhead or blackboard so all students can see and contribute. Finally, discuss the science of using stem cells to create other types of cells or for use as therapies for specific diseases/conditions.
7. Once discussion is finished and the graphic organizers have been completed, have students summarize what they have learned about stem cell research by creating a poster board sized display about stem cells. These displays could have pictures, diagrams, flow charts, definitions, case studies, or other examples that relate to stem cell research and current uses in medicine. When all projects are finished, students should share them in small groups. Projects should then be posted in the classroom for others to see.
2. Have students write a letter, speech, paper, play, or create a visual representation about their personal opinion on stem cell research. Encourage students to share their opinions and use what they have learned from studying the use of embryonic and adult stem cells to support their point of view. Give all students the opportunity to share their project and opinions with the class or in small groups.
3. As election day draws nearer, have students research the political views of their state and national leaders in regard to the use and funding of stem cell research. Once students learn how each political candidate feels about stem cell research, the use of embryonic vs. adult stem cells, and their ideas about funding such research, conduct a class discussion on whether or not this is one of the issues students would consider if they had an opportunity to cast votes in the November elections.
Author Lisa Prososki is an independent education consultant who taught middle school and high school social studies, English, reading, and technology courses for twelve years. Prososki has worked with PBS TeacherSource and has authored and edited many lesson plans for various PBS programs over the past eight years. In addition to conducting workshops for teachers at various state and national meetings, Prososki works as an editor, creates a wide range of educational materials for corporate clients, and has authored one book.
To find out more about opportunities to contribute to this site, contact Leah Clapman at email@example.com.
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