Meaningful, Relevant Learning
At Mabry we talk a lot about providing students with meaningful, relevant, substantive learning experiences that go well beyond a minimum standards mindset. This is part of the philosophical basis for the film festival. In this year's festival, one of the student groups has chosen to create a science documentary on a rigorous and relevant topic: stem cell research.
Yesterday, permission slips in hand, these students had the opportunity to spend an hour-and-a-half at Emory University filming and interviewing Marie Csete, MD, PhD, The John E. Steinhaus Professor of Anesthesiology, the Director of Liver Transplant Anesthesiology, and Director of Emory/GaTech's Human Embryonic Stem Cell Core Facility. Our students had done their homework and prepared a number of questions for Dr. Csete, who graciously went into the details of her work, answered their questions, and did an excellent and informative, non-judgemental job of explaining some of the controversy surrounding some aspects of stem cell research.
The students were frequently overheard saying things like, "Wow!" "Amazing!". They toured the lab as Dr. Csete explained the ground-breaking work being done there, the processes involved, the current limitations, the implications, the potential of the work, the problems being addressed today and the "really big problems" to follow that are not yet understood. She spoke of the melding of mathematics, engineering, and biology to tackle the complexities of the "really big problems." The students even saw living stem cells from a rat brain and muscle tissue under the microscope. They were quizzed by Dr. Csete.
I was astounded at how much the students absorbed from this unprecedented learning experience. I was also touched by how generous Dr. Csete was with her time and knowledge. She had been working for 36 hours harvesting livers for transplantation when an emergency arose. Rather than canceling her meeting with our students, she had a colleague begin the emergency transplant procedure so she could share with our students her passion for her work in the hope that some of these students will take this work even further. As we said our goodbyes, she headed off to the operating room.
The film festival began five years ago. Who ever would have thought...
Posted by Dr. Tyson