THE HEART OF STEM

We have witnessed that real life stories appear in similar ways in our home, in our school, and in the news we watch frequently. What could make the heroes in these stories famous? What kind of magic touch can there be behind the merger of reality and imagined? For centuries, science continues to develop by making agreements with many branches of science that can be its companions. STEM was born to transfer the educational dimension of this agreement to the future by questioning and reconstructing it.

Biotechnological developments break grounds in increasing vital opportunities by increasing the services offered to humanity every year. Researchers have reported that biologically 3D printed algae can be used in living tissues as a sustainable source of oxygen for human cells. They embedded bio-printed photosynthetic algae in a 3D hydrogel matrix. The aim was to create honeycomb-shaped tissues with cells derived from the human liver. In the future, the researchers say, the eco-friendly, cost-effective 3D bioprinting approach could be used for applications such as disease modeling, drug development, regenerative and personalized medicine, and even food engineering.

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Artificial organ production with 3D printer
The painting belongs to the author himself -Attribution CC BY

Another invention is the production of living tissue and organs in 3D bioprints. Around 400 thousand people around the world are waiting for organ transplantation. Thousands of people die every year while waiting for an organ transplant. At this point, it would be really great to have a technology that can quickly produce real tissues and organs when needed. 3D writing is not only in the health sector; it has also become a rapidly expanding production method that finds application in automotive, aerospace and defense industries and many other areas.

It is clear that biomaterials used in the medical field have developed in line with biotechnological developments. The classical surgeries performed in the past can now be performed with different techniques or robotic surgery. This will result in less bleeding and complications. Nanorobots used in nanomedicine are devices that effectively defend the human body against pathogens. After the nanorobots complete their mission, they are removed from the body without causing any side effects. Cosmetic creams that nourish the skin by absorbing excess oils, nanomolecular toothpastes that can kill germs can be examples. Usage areas of biomaterials in the health sector; orthopedic surgery, facial and maxillofacial surgery, dental implants, artificial heart parts and heart valves etc. example can be given. Brain stimulation method is also an important step taken in the relationship between medicine and biotechnology. With this method, in the treatment of diseases such as parkinson, epilepsy, and depression, the mental state was started to be improved by increasing cognitive function.

It was Eric Drexler from the USA who first voiced the concept of nanotechnology. Drexler, the founder of the Foresight Institute that focuses on nanotechnology, suggested that molecular machines could be made inspired by biological systems during his work in the MIT laboratory. Thus, the concept of nanotechnology has emerged. In the medical field; in microsurgery (eye, brain, etc.) in scientific researches, transport of microorganisms, drug release systems, in DNA modification nanotechnology is used.

Rice University researchers have revolutionized the field of nanotechnology with the development of the first single-molecule car. They built a nano-car with axles that rotate freely to the suspension system, with the chassis and axles made of organic components and the wheels made of spherical carbon-60 molecules called buckyballs. In the automotive industry, this invention has been effective in making glasses thin and durable, making vehicle paints brighter, preventing dirt on the vehicle surface, making automobile tires more durable and reliable. Also; efforts are underway to reduce CO2 formation by 20%. It is thought that all these innovations and technological developments will be combined with environmentally friendly cars that will meet customer demands, comply with trends, are safe and comfortable.

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Schematic atomic design of a nano car
The painting belongs to the author himself -Attribution CC BY

Working in a specialized lab for electron and laser scanning microscopes at the McDeburg Leibniz Institute of Neurobiology in Germany, Werner Zuschratter used an optical imaging technique that captures small objects through pinholes for greater contrast and clarity. Mouse embryo was photographed using a confocal microscope. Zuschratter revealed its bones and tissues in detail by laser scanning the foetation multiple times and combining stacks of images from different spectral ranges. Photograph received the image of the year award at the 2020 Olympus Life Sciences Competition. This development showed how well science can relate to art.

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mouse embryo -Image by Werner Zuschratter.- Attribution https://www.olympus-lifescience.com/en/landing/ioty-2020/

Since STEM is a combination of mathematics, engineering, technology and science, it is open to innovation and development and can be in contact with many disciplines. Sciences such as biotechnology and nanotechnology find new alternatives for themselves through STEM’s expert researchers. In this way, it continues the process of exploration and renewal. The aim is to discover and question new learning environments and to produce products by finding different solution strategies.

It is an inevitable fact that young people who will plan their careers for the future carry STEM to learning environments and develop relationships such as technology- artificial intelligence- medicine in a way that will benefit society. The work of teams of natural science experts, electrical- electronics, mechanical and computer engineering experts to support these relationships will to accelerate the heartbeat of STEM.

Author :Pınar ALTINKAYA , primary school teacher.

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