High School Science Resources: MECHANOBIOLOGY


The CEMB supports a summer professional development initiative for high school science teachers around the interdisciplinary research across the broad themes of mechanobiology.  The goal is for teachers to (1) participate in a CEMB research project during the summer, (2) develop a personal curriculum plan with specific lessons and activities to use in their teaching practice the following academic year, and (3) participate in academic year workshops with the project team and other teachers. See details about the RET (Research Experience for Teachers).

This portion of the MechanobioHUB will support teachers in the RET or anyone else interested in resources for cell biology, biophysics, and biomedical technologies.



  • What is mechanobiology?  In fewer than two minutes, you will know!  VIDEO (1:38)
  • How does the CEMB study mechanobiology? VIDEO (11:16)

Content videos from CEMB faculty: (you must be able to access the CEMB YouTube channel)

  1. Introduction to cell biology – Professor Erika Holzbaur (UPenn, School of Medicine) discusses cellular structure and dynamics in the animal cell.
  2. Cellular mechanics in animal cells – Prof. Richard Assoian, (UPenn, School of Medicine) discusses mechanical sensing INSIDE the animal cell.
  3. Cellular mechanics in plant cells – Prof. Ram Dixit (WashU, School of Arts and Sciences) discusses mechanical elements INSIDE the plant cell.
  4. Extracellular matrix in animal tissue – Prof. Rebecca Wells (UPenn, School of Medicine) discusses the mechanical elements OUTSIDE the animal cell.
  5. Extracellular matrix in plant tissue – Prof. Marcus Foston, (WashU, School of Engineering and Applied Science) discusses the mechanical elements OUTSIDE the plant cell.

Want more?….. There are many more videos available along with the set of slides for each talk at the Boot Camp page.

Big Ideas in Mechanobio (Download)

Our teachers created this document to help make connections to topics in the field of mechanobiology relevant to topics in a high school science class.

1.  Scientists across STEM disciplines are now collaborating to study living cells in 2D and 3D dynamic environments that mimic physiological conditions. This is a shift away from examining non-living, stained cells in petri dishes.

2.  The extracellular matrix (ECM) is the biological molecules that make up a cell’s 3D environment.  ECM-Cell and ECM-ECM interactions play a critical role in cell function, movement, signaling, sensing, adhesion, and transport.

3. Protein polymers, especially of tubulin and actin present in a cell’s cytoskeleton, facilitate a connection to ECM, playing an instrumental role in function, movement, signaling, sensing, adhesion, and transport.

4. Cells can sense their environment through various mechanical and chemical pathways and can transduce that information to other cells, resulting in changes to cell function and behavior.

5. By measuring forces exerted by and on cells, scientists calculate many biomechanically important quantities such as stress, strain, stiffness, etc.  Stiffness is particularly relevant in pathology (i.e. fibrosis, cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease, progeria, etc.).

6. Both traditional and state-of-the-art instruments and techniques are required for data collection, imaging, characterization, fabrication, and modeling during research related to biological molecules and cells.


Other video resources

Biology: Cell Structure

Credit:  Nucleus Medical Media

This animation shows you the function of plant and animal cells for middle school and high school biology, including organelles like the nucleus, nucleolus, DNA (chromosomes), ribosomes, mitochondria, etc. Also included are ATP molecules, cytoskeleton, cytoplasm, microtubules, proteins, chloroplasts, chlorophyll, cell walls, cell membrane, cilia, flagellae, etc.

Other web resources

A Tour of the Cell – a short, interactive introduction to cell structure and function.  Credit:  NSF, Biology





MBInfo – a rich web-based resource, MBInfo provides fundamental information on topics relevant to the field of Mechanobiology and keeps you up-to-date on the latest findings coming out of the Mechanobiology Institute, National University of Singapore.