Creating exciting excursions for elementary students in the cytometry laboratory environment: A multimedia support package

J.Paul Robinson, Kathy Ragheb, Gretchen Lawler, Bev Waisner, Sherry Voytik-Harbin, Steve Kelley, Stephanie Sincock

This presentation will outline several key components that can be used to create a scientifically useful learning experience for school kids at all levels when visiting the science laboratory. The most important element is to relate basic principles of information with the students knowledge base. For example, begin with a discussion of blood a topic studies by all junior or high school students. The origin, nature and function of all blood cells can be a very informative excursion. High technology tools such as flow cytometry and confocal microscopy can be used to teach students some basic principles. A blood sample, with CD4 and CD8 makers is an ideal specimen to prepare and run. This discussion can lead to the role of immune cells. Tissue culture can be discussed as it relates to research in understanding disease origins. Microscopy can be included by looking at a standard H&E blood film, or a fluorescence image of CD4-PE-CD8-FITC lymphocytes. Many other topics can be drawn into basic experiments the cell cycle for example. This can include a discussion of the nature of DNA and genetic differences between individuals, genetic diseases, and the nature of cancer, drugs and antibiotics for example. School students can become excited and interested in science by participating in laboratory excursions. Complex technologies such as flow cytometry and confocal microscopy can be simplified to simple principles to allow kids to understand the importance of the research or clinical laboratory. A small guide booklet with an accompanying CD-ROM with worksheets, handouts, sample Powerpoint presentations, images and datasets has been developed by our laboratory on how to create a scientifically valuable laboratory excursion for school kids.

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