Skip Discover Education Main Navigation
Skip Discover Education Main Navigation

Home> Teachers> Free Lesson Plans> Elements Of Biology: The Cell 

Elements Of Biology: The Cell Elements-Of-Biology-The-Cell?

  • Subject: Life Science
  • |
  • Grade(s): 9-12
  • |
  • Duration: 2 class periods

Lesson Plan Sections

Student Objectives

  • Explain what is meant by the term "tissue engineering."
  • Research tissue engineering, exploring its risks and benefits.
  • Determine a viewpoint on this topic and support the position with research.



  1. Begin the lesson by asking students to write what they know about tissue engineering. If they are unfamiliar with the topic, tell them to indicate so on their papers and that it does not affect their grade. Then ask students to put their notes away until the end of the lesson.
  2. Allow time for students to watch the segment "The Power of Life: Regenerating Cells." Then have them pair up and discuss the segment. Ask one or two pairs to report on their ideas.
  3. Tell students to imagine that they are on the board of directors for a new biotechnology firm working in the field of tissue engineering. As a board member, each student must write a letter to the head of the company explaining his or her position about this research. In developing their positions, students should consider the following issues:
    • The practicality of executing this research
    • The long-term benefits of this research
    • The long-term risks
    • An assessment of the long-term prospects for this research
  4. Give students time in class to work on their projects. The Web sites below have information on tissue engineering.
  5. For your information, below is some background material on this topic.
    • Tissue engineering is the building of new organs using cells from an individual that are then constructed on a human-made platform called a scaffold. Skin, cartilage, and kidneys have been successfully engineered.
    • Cells used in the construction of new tissues or organs can come from a matching donor or stem cells. Some controversy surrounds the use of stem cells for this purpose. Nonetheless, tissue engineering shows promise as a way to provide tissue and organs for individuals in need, especially in light of the shortage of organs available for transplants.
    • Rejection of the engineering tissue or organs remains a problem, just as it does with transplantation of donor organs. Shortage of cells needed for development of the artificial organs is another problem.
    • Tissue engineering shows great promise. Blood and blood products, bone, and nerve cells have been engineered in the laboratory and are currently undergoing testing. Scientists hope to develop nerve cells and artificial thyroid cells that could produce T-cells, which are part of the body's natural defense against disease and infection.
  6. During the next class period, give students time to finish their position papers. Then have students find a partner and exchange papers. Give students time to critique their classmates' work and discuss their ideas. Ask volunteers to share with the class.
  7. Conclude the lesson by asking students to revisit their initial ideas about tissue engineering. What have students learned about this topic? What are their opinions about the future of tissue engineering?

Back to Top


Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • 3 points:  Students thoroughly explained tissue engineering; demonstrated a clear understanding of the long-term risks and benefits of this research; developed a well-researched position paper that was supported by substantial evidence.
  • 2 points:  Students satisfactorily explained tissue engineering; demonstrated an adequate understanding of the long-term risks and benefits of this research; developed a satisfactorily researched position paper that was supported by some evidence.
  • 1 point:  Students could not or did not explain tissue engineering; demonstrated a weak understanding of the long-term risks and benefits of this research; developed a poorly researched position paper that was supported by little evidence.

Back to Top


Definition: The basic building block of life in an organism
Context: A cell's major parts ? the nucleus, mitochondria, and other organelles ? have a particular function that ensures that the cell gets the food and oxygen it needs to stay alive.

Definition: A structure in the body composed of different tissues, each of which contributes to the overall functioning of that organ
Context: The heart has four kinds of tissue, all of which ensure that blood is pumped throughout the body.

organ rejection
Definition: The term used to describe the response of an individual's body to a new organ or tissue that it recognizes as foreign
Context: It has taken years of scientific research to find ways minimize the effects of organ rejection on the human body.

Definition: A group of similar cells that perform a particular function in the body
Context: Epithelial tissue makes up the skin, which protects the body's other organs.

tissue engineering
Definition: The construction of an organ in the laboratory by using cells from an individual's body grown on a human-made structure called a scaffold and then transplanted
Context: Scientists have successfully used techniques of tissue engineering to create skin and cartilage.

Definition: The removal of a diseased organ and replacement with a healthy organ or tissues from another person
Context: The first successful kidney transplantation between identical twins took place in 1954 at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

stem cells
Definition: A unique type of cell often harvested from embryonic cells that can differentiate into different kinds of cells in the body
Context: Although the use of stem cells is controversial, scientists may be able to increase the number of organs produced if a large enough supply is available.

Back to Top

Academic Standards

National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences provides guidelines for teaching science in grades K-12 to promote scientific literacy. To view the standards, visit this Web site:
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
  • Life Science: The cell
  • Science and Technology: Abilities of technological design
  • Science and Technology: Understanding about science and technology

Back to Top