We developed a curriculum for K-12 students exploring organ structure and function that covers topics from the fields of biology (tissue architecture, tissue formation and regeneration) with compatible engineering topics (tissue engineering). The goal of the curriculum is to provide an exciting science program for girls in the non-competitive and informal environment of Girls, Inc. in their after-school and summer programs.
The curriculum focuses on an introduction to an organ system (largely from the biological perspective) followed by the concepts of tissue engineering (incorporating engineering and design principles). Stem cells and their roles in developmental biology will help to fuse the two disciplines of biology and engineering. The primary topic area is the eye and visual system since (a) it illustrates both the role of visual input to the eye and the higher processing that occurs in the brain and (b) the distinct tissue architecture of the eye can be incorporated into engineering designs. Components of the tissue engineering curriculum draw on the lab’s expertise with deformable 3D substrates for cells in vitro and in vivo.
Session 1 – Introduction to the eye and visual system
Session 2 – Creating a model eye
Session 3 – Eye dissection
Session 4 – Eye activities and games