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Simulated Diabetes Testing Experiment Using Artificially Manipulated Livestock Blood

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Portable Document Format
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Description Due to the societal prevalence of diabetes and lack of simple, but also realistic, endocrine physiology experiments, a laboratory protocol was developed to increase student knowledge of the disease and diabetic testing process. This protocol provides a hands-on, student-centered activity; is inexpensive; can be performed in under an hour using commercially available glucose meters; and maintains realism by using blood rather than artificial plasma. Ringer's solution and glucose were added to bovine blood to create six test samples representing three hypothetical “patients” (pre-prandial and postprandial, normal; pre-prandial and postprandial, pre-diabetic; pre-prandial and postprandial, diabetic). Students in Human Anatomy and Physiology II at the University of Mississippi during the Spring 2014 semester “field-tested” the experiment and were surveyed for their pre- and post-experiment knowledge of diabetes as well as subjective responses to the experiment. Throughout the laboratory sessions, blood glucose readings were consistently within projected ranges for the three hypothetical patients. Upon completion of the experimental protocol, the majority of students reported a self-assessed increase in knowledge concerning diabetes (164 of 209) and enjoyed the laboratory exercise (190 of 209). Bovine blood was used in the experiment to increase realism, and 194 of the students believed that this experiment was realistic given the constraints of laboratory safety, expense, and ease of testing. Due to student results and survey answers, we concluded that this laboratory exercise was successful. Suggested modifications to the protocol are included for use in advanced, inquiry-based laboratory exercises.
Type of Resource Laboratory or Hands-On Activity
Format Portable Document Format - PDF
Carol Britson, University of Mississippi
Hollie Ables, University of Mississippi
Development Date May 15, 2014
Grade/Age Level Undergraduate lower division (Grades 13-14)
Learning Time <=1 hour
Language English
Type of Review Reviewed By LifeSciTRC Board
Review Date May 17, 2016
Funding Source None
Suggested Use

This lab activity is a straightforward, but realistic lab to measure blood glucose levels in simulated normal, pre-diabetic, and diabetic patients. It is low cost and by using sterilized bovine blood it eliminates the use of biohazards. The authors have provided a very detailed background section on diabetes that will be helpful for instructors. They have also provided an incredibly thorough description of how to prepare the lab materials and potential problems that instructors may encounter. I suggest encouraging your students to make predictions about how they expect blood glucose levels to change after a meal and in people with diabetes before doing the activity. I liked the post-lab questions as they challenge students to solve harder problems based on their knowledge of diabetes.

Katie Wilkinson, San Jose State University


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