If a Starfish Can Grow a New Arm, Why Can't I?

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The exhibit is funded by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Center for Research Resources, a component of the National Institutes of Health.

Education Goals and Approach

Developed with a Science and Education advisory panel of teachers and leading researchers in the field today, the educational objective of this exhibit is to familiarize visitors with the fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Depending on which areas of the exhibit you have the time and desire to visit, you should be able to learn several of the following key points:

  • All living things are composed of cells.
  • Cells have specialized functions.
  • Groups of cells working together form specialized tissues, such as muscle, nerve, and connective (such as bone and cartilage) tissues.
  • Groups of tissues combine to form organs.
  • Some less complex animals, like our headliner the starfish (or sea star), can regenerate major parts of their bodies.
  • More complex animals, including humans, can regenerate, but this is limited to smaller parts of our bodies (like blood, hair, and fingernails).
  • A distinguishing feature of animals that can regenerate tissue after injury-like the starfish-is the formation of the blastema, a zone of progenitor cells, at the injury site.
  • How the blastema grows to produce a replica of the missing part is one of the most alluring aspects of regeneration.
  • Several biological, engineering, chemical, and medical science disciplines combine to make up the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
  • The possibility of growing replacement human tissues to construct an organ outside the body is a relatively new development, but it is exciting and happening today in Pittsburgh!
  • The future of tissue engineering and stem cell research holds great promise for us as a new way for doctors to treat illnesses and injuries.
  • As with all biomedical advances, there are ethical considerations with tissue engineering and stem cell research, as well as myths and misinformation.

The Natural World

This set of four activities explores the basic biology of cells-their form, purpose, abilities, and specializations.

The Science of Tissue Engineering

Three activity areas let you learn about some of the research going on today and try your hand at some cool virtual experiments.

Clinical Applications, Ethics, Issues, and Answers

Hear first-hand leading researchers talk about tissue engineering applications today and in the future, find answers to commonly asked questions, and register your opinions on some of the ethical issues involved in tissue engineering and stem cell research.

Interactions

Exhibit activities are designed for a wide range of ages and learning styles. These range from simple puzzle games for younger learners to in-depth video interviews with leading scientists in the field today. Interactive styles range from tactile, hands-on exhibits to touch-screen video games.



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