Have you ever wondered how cancer cells are detected?
First, meet Kat to learn why this work matters in real-lives today, and then join the Cancer Detectives as they sleuth out patterns in cancer cell growth, with a goal to improve lives through science. Grab your science notebook to take notes as you go, and then share your discoveries with others!
Learn Why Research Matters
Kat’s dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when she was in middle school. Kat shares how she navigated this crisis in her early teenage years and shares her path to advocacy: spreading awareness, supporting research, and preparing to make a difference through her own studies.
Questions to Consider:
Kat saw a problem in the world and took clear steps to make a difference. What problems do you see that you think could be solved by science? What steps could you take to start getting involved?
Kat wanted to learn as much as she could about cancer. What do you already know about cells and about cancer? What do you want to know about cancer?
“Nothing feels better than to actually make a difference in the thing that’s so problematic for you.”
Meet The Scientists
There are 4 cards to read.
I am a professor at UW-Madison in Biomedical Engineering. I mentor people in my lab to become independent researchers, set the direction of our research, and communicate our results to the scientific community. 🔬
I take images with our microscope and run data analysis on them. I’m always trying to answer this question: how do changes to mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) impact our microscopes measurements of cells? 🦠
I take images of different types of cells found in tumors and create computer programs to understand how each cell type behaves in the tumor. 🖥️
I am a stem cell engineer. I generate human tissues with stem cells in the hope of repairing damaged organs. 🧬
Learn About the Lab
Ever wonder what scientists do every day, or what kind of equipment they use in their lab? Join middle schoolers from Medford, Wisconsin and researchers from the Skala Lab to learn more about what research really looks like!
Questions to Consider:
Tiffany talks about how her lab takes images and videos of cells to study how they change over time. What things can you think of that change over time that you could document in order to study?
Dan and Amani talk about the importance of looking for patterns in their scientific research. Can you think of places in your life where patterns are really important?
“One of the biggest takeaways I’ve learned from being in science is that we actually don’t know that much. So… start trying stuff out! You could be the person to discover [something].”
Science Practices Activity
Lab researcher Amani has taken images with her microscope to find treatments for cancer. Can you help her identify how cancer cells look different from healthy ones?
Norman Yuson Cuaño
Science Education Consultant
Travis Tangen, WID
Kevin Anderson, PhD, DPI
Educator Guide and Activities
Amani Gillette, PhD
Thanks to our scientists
Melissa Skala, PhD
Tiffany Heaster, PhD
Tongcheng Qian, PhD
Morgridge Institute for Research
Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation
Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
Optical Microscopy in Medicine Lab
Director of Education
Director of Television
Oshkosh Area School District, Oshkosh, WI
North Crawford High School, Soldiers Grove, WI
Medford Area Middle School, Medford, WI
Traeger Middle School, Oshkosh, WI
Funding Provided By
Timothy William Trout Education Fund
a gift of Monroe and Sandra Trout
Focus Fund for Education
Friends of PBS Wisconsin