CSI: Cell Science Investigators

Cell Science Investigators12-14 year olds explore uses of stem cells and carry out their own model drug screening experiment.

This lesson is designed to follow Discover stem cells, which introduces basic stem cell concepts. We've piloted this new lesson with 6 classes; now we'd love to hear how YOU use the activities. Post a comment below or contact us with your feedback.

What people are saying about this resource

“It is a substantial, well-pitched tool which covers the preparation for and implementation of a lesson on basic stem cell concepts. It includes a student focused lesson plan based on achievable aims, a well-designed powerpoint with excellent diagrams, extensive notes and tips for teachers to guide the lesson and well thought through worksheets.” - Biology teacher in training, Ireland

Details and instructions


By the end of the session, students will:

  • Know how stem cells may be useful in medicine and research
  • Know an example of a disease that stem cell research may help in the future
  • Know that a scientific experiment should be a fair test

What's in the lesson?

CSI: Cell science investigators gets 12-14 year olds thinking about the uses, challenges and scientific processes of stem cell research. The lesson is divided into a number of short sections, mixing group work with class demonstration and hands-on experimentation.

  • Recap on stem cell properties.

    Use real cell images to learn about cell damage in multiple sclerosis. 
  • Discuss how stem cell research might help treat diseases.

    Do an experiment showing how stem cells may be used to test medicines.

  • Learn about how stem cells are used in treatments today.


There's a simple PowerPoint presentation to guide you through the the activities, while a model drug screening experiment gives students hands-on experience of some key aspects of the scientific method. A lesson plan and detailed guidance notes support you to deliver the activities with ease.

Download the PowerPoint slides and the pdf file called 'Lesson plan and print resources'. You will then have all the information and worksheets required to run the lesson. You will need to gather some additional everyday household substances and simple laboratory equipment (e.g. pipettes, beakers) for the experiment. You'll also need to prepare some red cabbage indicator papers. The lesson plan gives full details of how to get ready for the lesson. It includes a handy overview of the activities and a materials checklist.

Customising the lesson

If you are interested in covering diseases other than MS in this lesson, our fact sheets on stem cells and disease might be helpful.

Lesson plan and print resources (pdf)10.74 MB PowerPoint slides with guidance notes (ppt)4.89 MB PowerPoint slides with guidance notes (pdf)2.46 MB Editable version - What goes wrong in MS worksheet (doc)391 KB Editable version - Using cells to look for medicines worksheet (doc)101.5 KB


CSI: Cell science investigators was created and developed by Ian Chambers and Emma Kemp, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh. Important contributions, advice and opportunities to pilot the activities were provided by many colleagues, teachers and students. Particular thanks to Shona Reid of the James Young High School, Livingston, Scotland. Photographs of students and scientists on this web page are by Feelin' Groovy Photography. Other image credits are included within the resources where the images appear.

Permissions: This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA

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