(59a) Introducing Tissue Engineering Scaffolds to Middle School Teachers and Students
AIChE Annual Meeting
Monday, November 9, 2009 - 8:30am to 11:00am
Providing K-12 students an earlier exposure to engineering is recognized as a way to prepare them for postsecondary courses. There has been a significant increase in academies and workshops addressing this concept. Since there is a total turnover of students each year, training K-12 teachers has been thought as an efficient approach. Further, teachers can integrate engineering concepts during the academic year which provides a natural transition. Based on this concept, two middle school teachers (teaching Biology and Math) were selected to participate in research dealing with tissue engineering. Teachers worked for six weeks (four days a week) within the research laboratory on formation of porous structures using biodegradable polymers. Teachers were exposed to forming porous structures using chitosan and gelatin solution in various forms using the apparatus available in the laboratory. A low cost freeze drying system that is safe for operation by sixth grade students was developed. The overall cost of performing the experiment is also significantly cheap and less time consuming. An envisioned project the sixth grade students will work on during the academic year is freeze drying chitosan-gelatin solutions. Biology teacher will ask the students to make scaffolds that can support the regeneration of various body parts. Students will survey in the beginning to determine what polymers would be best for use and why. Once they determine what polymer they need, then they will freeze and air dry the premade chitosan-gelatin solution to form 2D and 3D structure. Another math teacher will help them understand the pore size, pore number and void fraction calculation using scanning electron micrographs given by me. Students will be asked to make scaffolds that can mimic a specific body part. We anticipate that the entire hands-on experience will be a positive reinforcement to their creative learning experience and encourages them to biomedical engineering/sciences.