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Moral Continuum: A Card Sorting Activity involving Cloning and Stem Cell Research

Putting things in order of importance and showing the reasons for the order is a way to apply theoretical knowledge. Done as a group, this exercise also explores the concerns and priorities of different people.  Ranking information takes time and allow for time at the end for discussion. Download UNESCO's book, ' Moral Games for Teaching Bioethics', print the cards from Game 10 (page 39) and read the accompanying teacher background and notes.

The Biotechnology Revolution: Engineer Skin

Biotechnology is becoming one of the most important economic driving forces in advanced societies, bringing endless improvements to the health and quality of life of the population. What are the latest applications of biotechnology? What are the challenges for the future?

Anna is living with diabetes.  She has a painful ulcer on her foot that can be treated using adult stem cells and engineered constructs assembled in a laboratory.  Your job is to engineer a replacement tissue to treat Anna's diabetic foot ulcer.  This resource is available in English, French, Catalan, Polish and Spanish.

Stem cells: Cells with potential

Stem cells are the source, or “stem,” for all of the specialized cells that form our organs and tissues. There are many kinds of stem cells, but two types have made frequent appearances in the news: embryonic stem are present in very early—and very tiny—embryos, and produce the first cells of the heart, brain, and other organs. They have the potential to form just about any other cell in the body.

Planaria: A window on regeneration

Humans may not look much like flatworms, but there’s a surprising overlap between our genome and that of a planarian due to our distant yet common past. At least one of the genes we share is expressed in both planarian and human stem cells and is likely to be involved in regeneration. 

This engaging web-based presentation explores regeneration in nature in planaria and why this is medically interesting for humans.

Brain POP: Stem cells: They are what they need to be

What are stem cells and why are they so controversial? In this BrainPOP movie, two characters give you the rundown on what makes stem cells different from regular cells. They’ll show you how stem cells may one day be used to cure diseases and grow new organs and limbs. You’ll also learn the differences between the various types of stem cells, including embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, and adult stem cells. Do you support stem cell research? Watch the movie to learn the basics and decide for yourself! 

Login for a free subscription to use this resource.  The website and many resources are also available in Spanish.

'Breast stem cells'

An overview of the human mammary gland with a focus on the role of breast stem cells during pregnancy. The primary function of the mammary gland is to produce milk to nourish young offspring. The mammary gland is comprised of three main cell types; alveolar, ductal and myoepithelial cells. During pregnancy, the mammary gland increases in size due to the action of breast stem cells, which can mature into any of the three mammary gland cell types.

In 2011, a Visual Science Award was given to the best short that depicts a science in a visually-engaging manner. This year’s winner was “Breast Stem Cells”

'Embryonic Stem Cell Patents Banned': Theory of Knowledge

The embryonic stem cell debate generates strong and emotive knowledge issues, which is evidenced by the fact that the case was passed all the way up to the European Court of Justice.  With the ban on patenting methods based on the destruction of embryonic stem cells, we add the elements of patenting and intellectual ownership (and of course the knock-on effects to funding, progress and public perception).  After reading through, understanding and discussing several resources, what knowledge issues can be identified?

Teaching resource directories

Links to websites offering collections of teaching resources, including educational material on stem cells.

2Ways Communicating Life Science Research- Stem cells

Rethink Stem Cells for Future Therapies, part of 2Ways, a FP-7 project Stem cell research and possible future therapies bring hope to many people, but cause doubt and fear too, as it involves the use of cells from embryos. This project includes a short film about Huntington’s Disease as a platform for discussions and presentations. The lesson includes a suggested experiment to simulate drug screening on cell cultures, a short video about Huntington's disease and PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis), and a slide to describe embryonic stem cell procurement.

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