This project is a partnership with formal and informal educators, clinicians, and researchers to develop a permanent science center exhibition and related, systemically integrated formal and informal educational programming -- all of which are aimed at exciting and meaningfully engaging students to the wonders of science and the field of tissue engineering (TE) and stem cell research. To introduce basic TE/Regenerative Medicine concepts to middle-school students in a hands-on, engaging way, The Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative ( PTEI), in collaboration with Achieving Student Success through Excellence in Teaching (ASSET), the Carnegie Science Center (CSC) and the University of Pittsburgh Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), will develop a 1,200 square foot permanent TE Exhibit to be first installed at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA. The exhibit, If A Starfish Can Grow a New Arm, Why Can't I?, and accompanying standards- and inquiry-based curricula materials will target 6th-8th grade students and their teachers. This unique TE exhibit will have three activity clusters (kiosks), with 3-4 activities per kiosk. The first kiosk, The Natural World, will present as background the biology of the innate ability of lower life forms to self-regenerate body parts, and the loss of this ability in higher life forms. The second kiosk, The Science of TE, will present the components of TE and stem cell research, including types of natural and synthetic scaffolding materials, types of precursor cells that can be seeded onto scaffolds, and the growth factors, differentiating factors, and nutrients that enable these cells to grow into various tissues within the body. The third kiosk, Clinical Applications and Future Questions, will feature clinical cases in which cell-seeded scaffolds have successfully restored function in humans, interactive """"""""ask the scientist"""""""" videos, and the future of TE. Life-science teaching modules currently used in PA and other U.S. cities planned for replicating the exhibit will have inquiry-based TE curricula enhancements constructed for use in classrooms and in teacher professional development. Of particular importance, detailed project effectiveness assessments will be conducted throughout. In all, this exhibit for 6th-8th graders and its accompanying instructional materials for students and teachers, will further understanding of principles of basic biology, chemistry, and engineering within various life forms and how science and technology, through TE, take advantage of these principles to promote healing and restoration of tissue function in a natural way. This experience will pave the way for students'appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of biosciences of the future and inculcate an appreciation and understanding of public health and public policy implications.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
Education Projects (R25)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRR1-SEPA-9 (01))
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Beck, Lawrence A
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Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative
United States
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