Category Archives: 02 Cells
Resources for the Cells topic
With links to stem cells, genetic engineering and biotechnology, homeostasis and the kidney, the current science outlined in this TED Talk by Anthony Atala is amazing. It includes a demonstration of a real kidney being printed and a student who has an engineered bladder and now lives a normal life. Wow.
With huge numbers of people waiting for kidney transplants, is this the future of transplant medicine?
Thinking of kidneys, the Guardian has a link to an AP article: Mystery illness kills thousands in South America.
This is what you get when you take the Learn.Genetics Cell Size visualiser and give it beans. Cary and Michael Huang at htwins.net have produced this great tool, which lets you zoom all the way into the smallest sizes and then out into the universe. You can click on each item to learn more.
It can be quite the time-suck as you whizz through inner and outer space.
Have a go!
Are you still here? Well then Morgan Freeman can give you a tour in this Powers of Ten clip from Cosmic Voyage.
Thanks to @AdamRutherford for tweeting the link to this.
In 2011, Drew Berry’s animation of the role of breast stem cells won the Imagine Science Film Festival award for visual science (posted here). In this TED Talk, he explains how and why he and his team have put together these accurate representations of invisible cellular processes. The talk shows some examples of the animations, including a really great segment on mitosis and what is happening when spindle microtubules attach and contract.
For more excellent animations, visit the Walter and Elizabeth Hall Institute (WEHI) TV Channel: http://www.wehi.edu.au/education/wehitv/, or their YouTube channel.
The effective communication of Science is an Art.
It’s Mo-vember again and the facial foliage is taking shape. It also just happens to be
mid-way through right after the November 2011 session Biology exams. A perfect time to launch an appeal for sponsorship from teachers and students who have used this site in their studies.
November sessioners (and others), here is a chance to pay it forwards by giving to something seasonal and topical: please make a donation at my MoSpace page! Please get on board or show your support for all the free resources posted here by making a small donation.
In other appeals so far, i-Biology has raised around GBP300 for various charities through my Biology4Good donations page.
Here’s a curriculum link for good measure: 2.5 Cell Division (tumours and cancer).
First up – some of the real impacts made by Movember fundraising – with real science.
And here are the rules of Movember:
This visualisation of the role of breast stem cells was the winner of the award for Visual Science at this year’s Imagine Science Film Festival. Carl Zimmer was one of the judges and has posted more of the winning videos to his Discover blog.
For lots more quality visualisations, visit the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s YouTube channel.
The Imagine festival includes a $500 Budding Scientist award, open to High School students. Get working!
Here is a cute video called Do You Know What a Nano Is?
Yesterday, the European Court of Justice banned the issuing of patents for embyronic stem cell research, stating:
“A process which involves removal of a stem cell from a human embryo at the blastocyst stage, entailing the destruction of that embryo, cannot be patented.“
The decision has caused widespread concern amongst European stem cell researchers, yet has been welcomed by other groups on moral, ethical or religious grounds.
So why is it such a hot topic?
Use the resources here, and others that you can find, to discuss the following questions in your group. Be prepared to feed back to the class with a summary of no more than 5 minutes.
- What are (embryonic) stem cells and how do their properties facilitate research?
- Where are stem cells found? Are they all the same?
- How do stem cells eventually become differentiated and specialised?
- Outline at least one recent successful therapeutic use of stem cells.
- Identify a range of stakeholders in the debate. What are their views and reasons for them?
- Can you propose potential solutions or workable compromises that could reduce the impact of the ban on scientific research?
Some write-ups on this news story here:
About Stem Cells:
- Cell Theory, topic 2.1 resources by MrT
- Loads of interactive resources from Learn.Genetics
- SEED Magazine’s Stem Cells Cribsheet
- Stem Cell Differentiation (animation) from MCB Harvard
- Stem Cell Basics, from the National Institutes of Health
- StemCells: Seeds of Hope? video from Teachers Domain
- NewScientist special reports on Stem Cells
- Stem Cells transplants in lymphoma (animation)
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. There are many stakeholders in embryonic stem cell research, each with their own knowledge claims and beliefs.
With this recent 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).
To what extent does the embryonic stem cell debate highlight potential conflicts between the areas of knowledge of the natural sciences and ethics and between the ways of knowing of emotion and reason?
After reading through, understanding and discussing the resources, what knowledge issues can you identify?
This follows on from a related story in the USA last year:
Comments have been disabled on this post, but are open on the TOK page for the same content.
Related to it is an update to the Powers of Ten video, from the IMAX Cosmic Voyage movie, narrated by Morgan Freeman. the start brings us in powers of ten, out into the universe. From 6:03, we start moving in – to cells, molecules and atoms.
Jump straight to the small bits here (6:03). Biology class will use it too, as we look into measurement and microscopy.
This is why we love Science.
Today’s Guardian has a profile of Elizabeth Murchison on the Grrl Scientist blog. Murchison’s TED Talk explains the work of her team trying to prevent the extinction of Tasmanian Devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) due to a contagious facial cancer, spread by biting.
Scary stuff, with some – very – graphic images.
She mentions the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is responsible for cervical cancer. Their first thought was that the source of this cancer was similar – viral, but that is not the case. In fact, the cells are implanted into other devils through biting – where they colonise and run rampage.
With all the apps and fan pages out there, you too could turn your facebook into a feed reader.
Create interactive timelines online for free with Dipity. This would be a great tool for revision of historical topics and it can be shared and embedded.
Ed Yong has a neat example on his NotExactlyRocketScience blog, of the timeline of reprogrammed (induced pluripotent) stem cell research:
Why use this?
- It’s free, visual, quick and easy
- Images, links and videos can be inserted
- You can connect it with facebook for easy logins (like SlideShare)
- Sharing is easy, embeds are possible (though not WordPress.com, again)
What could it be used for?
- Book or topic reports, such as a timeline of Darwin’s life and work.
- Mapping any time-related topic. History of the Universe, anyone?
Of course, if you’re studying History, Economics or current affairs, it would be an ideal tool.