Stem cells, differentiation, and specialization (General Biology)- WITH key

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Grade Levels
9th - 12th
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This activity packet is designed to help beginning Biology students understand the basics of stem cells and why they are important. When students are done, they should be able to do the following:

- define what a stem cell is, why it’s like a “blank slate,” and why they are important.

- explain (at a basic level) how a stem cell differentiates (gets programmed) to become any other type of cell using these words: blank slate, identical copies, DNA turned on/off, specialized for a job.

- provide examples of differentiated cells in the body to show how cells are different.


There are two parts to this packet: an "activities/notes" section, and a "worksheet/summary" section.


1) Play-Doh (or clay) is used to model how stem cells follow some instructions and ignore others. The point shown is that all the instructions are the same, but if certain steps are ignored, final products end up looking different.

2) Students read and illustrate how stem cells work (at a basic level) with teacher guidance and discussion.

3) Students watch a video clip and use given words to synthesize a sentence or two about how stem cells and differentiation/specialization works.

4) Students watch another short video clip about what stem cells can do (this great clip reviews the info so far, discusses (at a basic level) embryonic vs adult stem cells, and talks about why stem cells are useful).


5) Students complete a stem cells/differentiation worksheet and application questions. Students should have prior knowledge about cell organelles and their functions.

I plan one day for this (we have 45 minute periods)- one for the activities/notes, and then I assign the worksheet portion as homework.


You are viewing my activity packet WITH they key included. I also sell this product WITHOUT the key at a slightly lower price. If you are interested, check it out by clicking here .

If you purchase this, you will get a zipped folder with the packet in Word, the packet as a pdf, and the answer key as a pdf.

Total Pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
45 minutes
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