Shannon Strader Shannon Strader. Photo courtesy of PBS Wisconsin Education.

Meet The Lab inspires students with Morgridge Institute research

Stem cell science at the Morgridge Institute for Research is featured in new educational materials created by the PBS Wisconsin Meet the Lab program, designed for middle school classrooms throughout Wisconsin and beyond.

Meet The Lab — a partnership between PBS Wisconsin, the Morgridge Institute, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and Wisconsin educators – is an online collection of resources that introduces middle school science classrooms to relevant, real-world issues and cutting-edge research.

These resources are widely accessible to classrooms throughout Wisconsin and beyond, and each supports the National Next Generation Science Standards for classrooms to foster students’ growth in the context of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM).

The latest module from the Morgridge Institute is Bio Builders: Superpowered by Stem Cells, in which students explore the use of stem cells to repair or replace damaged blood vessels. These interactive classroom materials are based upon research from the James Thompson Lab and features Morgridge scientists Elizabeth Perrin, Jue Zhang, Marcela Tabima, and Bret Duffin.

Students also hear a first-hand account of the importance of biomedical research from Dr. Shannon Strader, an institute alumna who was inspired to pursue medicine after losing her twin sister from a young age due to a nervous system disorder.

The Bio Builders module is one of two new Meet the Lab releases from PBS Wisconsin. The second new release, Visual Communicators: Superpowered by Color, is based upon research from UW–Madison’s Visual Reasoning Lab, led by professor Karen Schloss.

“There are so many ways for learners to get curious about science,” says PBS Wisconsin Education’s Director of Education and Chief Curiosity Officer Alyssa Tsagong. “These new labs are incredible additions to an already exciting and diverse collection of science practices happening right here in Wisconsin.”

Wes Marner, Morgridge Educational Programs Manager, agrees. “The team worked closely with classroom teachers to ensure that the activities would be engaging and meaningful to students. It’s wonderful to know that classrooms are teaching science through Morgridge Institute research, and that the next generation of scientists are inspired by our work.”

Each featured lab’s page in the collection contains a variety of learning media components that are reinforced with discovery activities. Learners will watch a Why Research Matters video profiling an individual, or group, impacted by the featured lab’s research. Then, learning goals are put into practice through an interactive STEAM Identity Card Game featuring researchers from the labs, and a Science Practices Discovery Activity composed of a slide deck and data sheet. Discussion prompts and an Educator Guide are also included.

In addition to the new Bio Builders module, educators have access to Virus Investigators: Superpowered by Electron Microscopy and Cancer Detectives: Superpowered by Laser Microscopes which feature the Skala and Ahlquist research groups, respectively.

Meet the Lab was made possible through the generous support of the Timothy William Trout Education Fund – a gift of Dr. Monroe and Sandra Trout, the Focus Fund for Education, and Friends of PBS Wisconsin.