Educator Resources

Class Discussion

Establish Prior Knowledge

Have students share what they know about Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). Point out that ALS causes motor neurons to shrink resulting in muscle paralysis and death. An animation showing what happens to neurons and muscles during ALS can be found at:
http://www.projectals.org/events/media.shtml  (Click “What is ALS?)

Tell students that the snapshot they are about to see recounts how researchers have created a disease-specific stem cell line for ALS in hope of learning more about the disease and how to treat it.

Exploration

Have students view the Snapshot and read the synopsis. Use the following questions to guide discussion.

1. How did researchers create the stem cells?
2. What is unique about stem cells? 
3. How did researchers use the stem cells? 

Wrap-up

4. Why is the development of ALS-affected motor neuron cells important?

Extend

Students who wish can learn more about transforming adult cells into stem cells at:
http://www.amnh.org/explore/science-bulletins/human/snapshots/human-stem-cell-breakthrough