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One Week, Two Field Trips

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One Week, Two Field Trips

Ann Sumner Thorp, Editor-in-Chief

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On Thursday, November 29th, the 3rd grade class traveled to the Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill with their teachers, Mrs. Green and Mrs. Grimes. The planetarium brought the solar system to life for these students as they learned about the moon, stars, planets, and constellations. I think Mrs. Green described the trip perfectly saying, “It was an out of this world experience!”


The Morehead Planetarium was the first planetarium in the south and had its grand opening in 1949. John Motley Morehead III built the planetarium as a “thank you” to the university for all that it had done for him over the years. Previously Morehead served as the mayor of Rye, New York and as ambassador to Sweden. He also founded the Union Carbide Corporation. In 1959, the planetarium became home to astronauts who needed to learn about celestial navigation. Many of these astronauts participated in the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz programs. Tony Jenzano, the planetarium director, stated, “Carolina is the only university in the country, in fact, the world, that can claim all the astronauts as alumni.” The Morehead Planetarium was renamed in 2002 to the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center to extend its mission beyond astronomy into other areas of science as well. Their mission statement now reads: “To serve North Carolina and beyond by bringing together the unique resources of UNC to engage the public for an improved public understanding of science, technology, and health.” I think it’s safe to say that the 3rd grade class loved every minute of this amazing field trip that served to not only expand their knowledge of space but increased their curiosity about the universe.


Earlier in that week, the 7th grade class visited the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine where they explored five areas of research: Military Applications, Bladder Research Center, Fetal Research and Therapy Program, Cell and Gene Therapy Research, and Replacement Organs and Tissue. The WFIRM website describes their mission saying, “The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) is an international leader in translating scientific discovery into clinical therapies. WFIRM is focused on several research programs that are working to develop replacement tissues and organs while speeding up the availability of these treatments to patients.”


The institute was initially started for military application to help wounded soldiers with skin, muscle, and organ damage, but it has developed into worldwide research. Bioprinting is like traditional 3D printing, but with a small twist; it prints living tissues, bones, and organs. The researchers at WFIRM not only study temporary treatments, but they also explore potential cures for various illnesses. As a chaperone on the trip, Dr. K said, “The cutting-edge technology being used at WFIRM is incredible. They’re attempting to make workable organs for people. Right now they are using 3D printing to make bladders for patients. Their next attempts are with kidneys and other organs. It’s amazing.” Their bladder research center has developed a bladder surgery method that has been successfully used in other countries but is awaiting approval in the United States. When WFIRM is making new organs with bioprinting, they do so out of the patient’s own cells, so the organs won’t be rejected by the body. After cultivating cells and growing additional ones, they then lay these cells down on a scaffolding and build the organ layer by layer.


The 7th grade Life Science class is taught by Mr. Hrin. Students in this class were able to see real-life applications for what they are learning in class. Audrey Roeder remarked, “I think the 3D printing we saw was ahead of its time by the way they’re printing the cells. I thought that was really interesting. They are printing live things! In addition, the researchers were very nice, and it was fun to see how they obviously enjoyed their work. Seeing all of this first-hand made it even better.” At the end of their tour, the students had the opportunity to ask questions to faculty members on where their research was headed and the stumbling blocks they had faced along the way. They also learned more about how the researchers work closely with the FDA to help create the policy for biological remakes of organs. We are so grateful that the 7th grade class had the opportunity to visit WFIRM, and a HUGE thank you to Mr. Wayne Gibson who helped organize this special tour.



Sources:
http://moreheadplanetarium.org/about/about-morehead/history/john-motley-morehead-iii
https://school.wakehealth.edu/Research/Institutes-and-Centers/Wake-Forest-Institute-for-Regenerative-Medicine
Mr. Hrin, Dr. K, Ansen Gong
Bioprinting printer: https://www.explainingthefuture.com/bioprinting.html
John Morehead Pic: http://www.moreheadcain.org/snapshot/john-motley-morehead-iii-3/

 

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One Week, Two Field Trips