Stem Cells Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Stem cells are cells that have not decided what they will be when they grow up. Stem cells can grow up to be any cell in the body. Learn about stem cells and why scientists are interested in them.

Stem Cells

Being a kid is great because you can grow up to become anything you want. You can become a teacher, a police detective, a concert violinist or a train engineer. Stem cells are like kid cells because they haven't grown up yet and gotten a job. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells, which means their purpose in life hasn't been determined yet.

You have trillions of cells in your body that do many different jobs. You have nerve cells that communicate messages around your body, skin cells that cover your body, liver cells that help break down toxins, and heart cells that make up that important blood pump called your heart.

All of your cells started their life as stem cells, but once they picked their job, they became differentiated, meaning they become very different. This change is a good thing because you wouldn't want a liver growing on your skin. That would look funny!

Embryonic Stem Cells

Let's take a look at how human cells get started in life as stem cells. Inside a mother's womb is an embryo, which is the term used to describe the earliest stage of human life and development. As the embryo grows, it fills with basic cells called stem cells. These cells are referred to as embryonic stem cells because they are inside the embryo. Embryonic stem cells can divide, just like other cells, but they can do so without becoming a specific type of cell.

Embryonic Stem Cell
Embryonic Stem Cell

Adult Stem Cells

After birth, you still have stem cells, but now they are called adult stem cells. You can find them in your bone marrow, which is the soft, spongy material inside your bones. You also find them in other tissues, like the brain, blood, muscles, skin and liver.

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