Tissue Engineering
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Creative Commons License
Tissue Engineering by Alyson Nelson, 2016 Allen Distinguished Educator is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Project Overview

In this problem-based learning engineering project, students answer the question: “How can you design low-cost synthetic tissues for low-resource medical schools and research labs?”

Alyson Nelson

School: Nikola Tesla STEM High School

Type of School: Public – Choice

Location: Redmond, WA

School Population: 432

Demographic: 47% minority students

% Free/reduced lunch program: 2%

Learning Outcomes

This project integrates biomedical engineering and global health concepts and meets learning standards in engineering and life sciences. Students will be able to identify how resource shortages can negatively affect global health and relate accessibility of medical devices to improved medical care.
 
Download the open-source Project Plan Materials to view a complete list of standards and learning outcomes addressed in this project.

How Alyson Does It

Grade: 11th & 12th

Timing: 5 hours over the course of several days

Subjects:  Human biology, biomedical engineering, Young’s Modulus, global health 

Materials: authentic tissue samples (muscle, fat, tendon, etc.), silicone caulk; caulk gun, 3oz plastic cups, plastic spoons, transfer pipets, ruler, metric weight set, various environmental set-ups, tri-fold posters, laptops and Microsoft Excel

Project Steps: Alyson implements this project in six stages following an initial 1-2 hours of preparation. The six stages include: Introduction and Discussion of Needs, Testing Authentic Tissue Samples, Designing Synthetic Tissue Samples, Redesign and Testing Synthetic Tissue Samples, Problem-Based Learning Consideration, Analysis of Results, and Presentation of Results. 

How You Can Do It

Grade: 8th – 12th

Timing: 5 hours – 2 weeks (some project steps require setting up materials overnight)

Subjects: Human biology, biomedical engineering, Young’s Modulus, global health


Materials: All materials used by Alyson in this project are recommended. The addition of food coloring is optional.

Project Steps: Depending on the skills or interests of students, additional time or instruction may be needed for some of the project steps.
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Comments (12)
Avatar
Lisa Peck
5/4/2017 5:23:41 PM

Teacher from St Petersburg, FL
I finally got tendons from a cow processing plant in Georgia! But now my slopes for the tissues were weird. Muscle: 51.75 Fat -48.413 and Tendon 95.565. Am I supposed to convert to .518, -.484, .956? and what about the negative value for the tendon? Any ideas? Thoughts?

Avatar
Lisa Peck
4/29/2017 6:58:20 AM

Teacher from St Petersburg, FL
Kathryn so glad you tried the suturing, kids love to suture. What was the Young's Modulus you got for the tendons? Were they beef? I am having trouble acquiring tendons.

Avatar
Lisa Peck
4/25/2017 9:55:09 AM

Teacher from St Petersburg, FL
I can not seem to get samples of tendons from my meat markets/butchers in St. Petersburg, Fl. Their meat arrives with tendons removed. Can you folks share the data you got for you tendon's Young's Modulus? Next year I plan on doing this again and will talk to folks who butcher deer for hunters and get all of my tissue from them including tendons.

Avatar
Lisa Peck
4/23/2017 5:35:55 PM

Teacher from St Petersburg, FL
I am launching the project this Tuesday, will let you know how it goes. Trying to figure out how to quantify how well the synthetic tissue holds the sutures compared to real tissue. Thinking of hanging a weight using a fish hook to determine if sutures will hold. what do you guys think?

Avatar
Kathryn Davis
3/24/2017 9:43:08 AM

Teacher from Hood River, OR
My students created their prototypes and then redesigned twice (for a total of 3 versions of each tissue type). We had a local doctor show us suturing technique, we practiced first on orange skin and then tried on the tissues that were created in class. The students LOVED this activity. I modified some of the data sheets and there is a great pbs syndaver video to start the unit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORdZnWAa6R4.

Avatar
Kathryn Davis
1/24/2017 1:24:45 PM

Teacher from Hood River, OR
For those who have tried this already, are students able to create a successful model after two attempts? I am planning the unit and wondering if I need to allow time for a 3rd prototype to be constructed? Lisa-did you try the suturing idea? I would love to try this also.

Avatar
Jenny Burns
9/2/2016 10:01:49 AM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Hi Lisa,

Great idea to add to this project! I haven’t heard of anyone trying this yet, but it seems like a sensible next step. After creating these synthetic tissues for a purpose, it makes sense to test them for that very purpose. If you develop a follow-up experiment, we would love to see it and find out how it goes.

- Jenny

Avatar
Lisa Peck
9/1/2016 1:44:26 PM

Teacher from St Petersburg, FL
Possible adaptation: if we are developing synthetic tissue to practice suturing (testing stress and strain)... Then couldn't we develop an experiment to further test actual suturing of the created synthetic tissues? Has anyone tried this yet?

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Jenny Burns
8/19/2016 3:21:37 PM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
The video has been updated based on your insightful feedback Kama! Thank you for sharing.

Avatar
Jenny Burns
7/25/2016 8:19:05 AM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Hi Kama Almasi,

Thanks for joining the discussion. I just watched this portion of the video again and agree it would be helpful to clarify that this calculation refers to the SA of "one side" rather than the "whole cube". I'll reach out to our video team and see if they can help to clarify this point.

On another note, are you planning to bring this project into your class? What grade are your students?

Avatar
Kama Almasi
7/23/2016 3:35:03 PM

Teacher from Waldport, OR
Quick question -- in the calculations on the video, Alyson uses surface area (SA) of the cube of tissue in the denominator. Should it be SA of the entire cube, or just the area of one side? In her calculation it is just one side. I'm not clear why this is so, and also I think I would change the wording to "area of one side" to my students. Thanks!

Avatar
Jenny Burns
6/30/2016 12:41:40 PM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
How can teachers adapt this project to fit their own classrooms? Does anyone have suggestions or recommendations?

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