Microarrays and Stem Cells

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this activity, learners use microarray technology to determine which genes are turned on and off at various points in the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells on their way to becoming pancreatic β cells. An introductory PowerPoint, reading, video clip and an animation provide learners with background information needed to interpret the results of a paper microarray simulation. Learners will position cDNA strips on mini-microarrays to discover which genes are expressing, to what degree they are expressing, and which are not. They use these findings to trace the differentiation of embryonic stem cells that give rise to pancreatic β cells and other cell types. The role of growth factors and proximity of other cell types is central to learners understanding how researchers may direct the ultimate fate of stem cells. The value of this in treating diabetes is also discussed. This activity is recommended for learners studying Biology at the High School (honors, IB and AP) or Undergraduate level.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 14 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Stem Cells and Diabetes: The Future PowerPoint
  • Potent Biology: Stem Cells, Cloning and Regeneration DVD or access to the Internet
  • Connect 4 Game
  • Turkey baster
  • Copies of the Microarray Stem Cell Activity
  • 1 set of short nucleotide sequences for cell types 1-4 in labeled sealable bags
  • 2 markers-1 red and 1 pink


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
    • Heredity and Genetics
      • Human Genetics
      • DNA Structure and Function
      • Genetic Engineering
    • Human Body
      • Digestion
      • Health and Nutrition
      • Medicine
      • Immune System
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemistry of Life
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
    • Science as a Career
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Colvard, Mary


  • All rights reserved, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2010