Teacher Feature: Plant Cells, a 3D Printer and PBS LearningMedia

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Amanda Haughs (@MsHaughs) teaches fifth grade at Forest Hill Elementary in San Jose, California. She is also a 2015 PBS Digital Innovator. The best part of her job is watching students get excited about learning and being able to witness the “A-ha!” moments. She is passionate about finding the tool, strategy or subject that each student needs in order to feel inspired and motivated to learn. Amanda recently used PBS LearningMedia and a 3D printer to teach plant and animal cells. Share your PBS LearningMedia stories here.

How are you using PBS LearningMedia?

I use PBS LearningMedia tools in whole class instruction,
to differentiate learning, to review skills, and to make real world
connections to our learning.

Can you share a recent success story?

Just a couple of weeks ago, we were provided the opportunity to borrow a
3D printer. Since we were studying plant and animal cells I decided to
have the students use TinkerCad to design models of a plant or animal cell
that we would then print. I used a PBS LearningMedia article about
bioprinting and a video about tissue engineering to support the unit. The
week before 3D printing, the students did a flipped assignment for
homework that required them to do a close read of the article, view the
video and write a summary, and prepare to talk about both assignments in
class the next day. Students were also provided an optional assignment
in which they read (and commented on) a blog about printing bones written
for the Frankenstein, M.D. Show. Using these materials, students were
able to discuss bioprinting and future uses of 3D printers with our
district STEAM coach and the 3D printer company engineer on the day of


What resources did you use?

Custom Organs Printed to Order | Nova Next Article
This Nova article provided background information on how 3D bioprinting could alleviate organ shortages. Students did a close reading of the article.

Tissue Engineering | Video
This video segment from Design Squad features the work of Howard Pryor, a tissue engineer and doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Pryor demonstrates a device he is working on to replace diseased livers. He explains the challenges of artificially engineering a human organ, including getting blood to flow through a device for processing just as it would through a liver. He also details the design process. Students viewed video, then wrote a summary.

The Future of 3D Printing (Frankenstein, M.D.)| PDF
This blog post was given as an optional assignment in which students read (and commented on) a blog about printing bones written
for the Frankenstein, M.D. Show.

About PBS LearningMedia

PBS LearningMedia offers teachers and students the FREE digital resources they want when they want them.  PBS LearningMedia has more than 100k trusted digital resources drawn from critically acclaimed PBS programs such as NOVA, FRONTLINE, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and PBS KIDS programs like SID THE SCIENCE KID, as well as federal agencies such as The National Archives and NASA. Each resource showcases the subject, grade level and corresponding alignment to national and Common Core standards, and is presented within hierarchies of commonly taught topical areas, allowing users to browse the collections easily.

On the site users are able to search, view and share selected resources and save and organize content through a “favorites” feature. PBS LearningMedia features video footage as well as audio clips, interactives, photographs, animations, interviews, and graphics presented with extensive contextual information and teacher support materials.

Productivity tools including a Lesson Builder, Storyboard tool, and Quiz Maker enable deeper engagement with content and allow educators to create personalized, interactive activities for students that can be used in the classroom or as homework assignments.

Sign up for a free PBS LearningMedia account to search, save and create interactive experiences.