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About This Lesson Plan


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Lesson 7: Cord Blood Banking and Transplantation

Through this lesson, students will learn about the importance of cord blood, possible uses of cord blood stem cells, and the difference between public and private cord blood banking. Students will also become familiar with the different types and lineages of stem cells found in the body. This lesson is designed for two to three class periods, depending upon the length of class discussions.

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe the possible lineages of stem cells
  • Define “hematopoietic stem cell”
  • Describe possible uses of cord blood stem cells in disease treatment and prevention
  • Distinguish between embryonic and cord blood stem cells
  • Describe the issues that have arisen relating to public versus private banking of cord blood
  • Formulate and express an opinion on the banking and use of cord blood


Lesson 7A
Begin by asking the class the following motivating question (do now): What comes to mind when you hear the words “stem cells”? Ask students to list at least three topics or phrases. Have students discuss their answers with a partner (pair share), then as a whole class. Explain to students that hematopoietic stem cells can be found in umbilical cord blood, or “cord blood” for short. Instruct them on the importance of stem cells, the different types of stem cells, where they can be found, and the lineages of stem cells. Ask students to research possible uses of cord blood stem cells and share their answers with a partner (pair share). Follow this activity with a whole class discussion.

Lesson 7B
Have students work in groups to complete Student Worksheet 7. Groups will conduct research using articles and Web pages (see suggested references below) on cord blood banking and possible uses of cord blood. Alternatively, students can conduct the background research as homework and come to class prepared to begin the discussion. Note: Students should already be familiar with the different types of stem cells.

Students should use the following guiding questions for their background research:

  • Why does cord blood contain hematopoietic stem cells?
  • What are some diseases that cord blood stem cells could possibly be used to treat?
  • What research is currently under way with regard to the use of cord blood stem cells? What have been some successes and failures?
  • What is the value of donating a baby’s cord blood to a public blood bank versus storing it at a private bank for one’s own use?

After completing its research, each group should present its findings on one or more of the topics addressed in the guiding questions. Ask students to express their own opinions on the banking and use of cord blood.

Have students write a one-page description of their opinions on the banking and use of cord blood. Students should be required to be specific in their description and to use supporting facts from their research with in-text citations.

Extension Activities
Conduct an in-class debate or trial in which each group of students represents a person or group involved with cord blood banking, research, or treatment.

Groups could represent physicians who research and/or treat life-threatening diseases, stem cell researchers, parents of newborns, or presidents of public or private cord blood banks.

Have the students debate the pros and cons of public versus private cord blood banks and potential issues regarding research using cord blood stem cells.


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