This isn’t the plot of the latest science fiction movie, however: it’s a real-life learning event at the Jamaica Plain school thanks to a visit from The Giant Cell.
“Hosting The Giant Cell gives our students an amazing opportunity to experience the incredible biology of the building blocks of living things,” said BISB Head of Science Tom Murphy. “Ordinarily, cells remain an abstract or 2D concept for many students, as we are limited to looking at pictures of them or peering through microscopes. The Giant Cell, along with the Swiss biologists accompanying, gives students the chance to actually enter a huge model and see for themselves the crucial parts of these structures which help us to live.”
The Giant Cell is a large inflatable model of a human white blood cell, magnified 300,000 times its actual size. The model allows visitors to walk into the cell and explore the details of its interior.
The Giant Cell- the only learning tool of its kind in the world- was developed jointly by the University of Basel, Switzerland and Interpharma, an education company that aims to enhance science teaching at all school levels throughout Switzerland. Since its creation, the cell has been on the road, visiting high schools across Switzerland, France, Germany and the U.S.
The Cell has visited Boston before, but this year the British International School of Boston is the only school at which the model is stopping, and the visit is also attracting students from other area schools and senior scientists from Boston’s Museum of Science.
The visit from The Giant Cell is the kickoff to the British International School of Boston’s annual STEAM Week celebration, which brings students and teachers together to explore learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics from April 16-24.
Through field trips throughout the city, in-class learning activities and visits from local scientists and artisans, STEAM Week aims to show students how science and the arts connect in our daily lives.
“In today’s society it is more crucial than ever that students can make links between scientific and artistic disciplines,” said Murphy. “With the enhanced connectivity in society due to advanced technologies it is no longer acceptable for our students to have understanding of one narrow discipline; our STEAM week events are designed to cross this bridge and develop a new paradigm of understanding in terms of the design, engineering and use of materials and technology in the future.”
In addition to the visit from The Giant Cell, students at the British International School of Boston will: Skype with an astronaut, launch bottle rockets with scientists from MIT, learn about glass-blowing from a Jamaica Plain artisan, and learn about the engineering of Boston’s bridges.
On Friday, April 24, leaders from the science, technology and arts fields will participate in a STEAM Fair at the school, sharing their career experiences with BISB students.
The school will also host a booth at the Cambridge Science Festival’s Science Carnival this Saturday, April 18. Visitors to the booth can learn about edible insects and, if they are brave enough, eat a bug!