HeLa Cell Program: Learning About HeLa Cells

By Tom Gralinski, STEM Coordinator
Smith College Jandon Center for Community Engagement
Date: December 2015

Program Description: On December 1st, the Holyoke Community College-Adult Learning Center in Holyoke returned to Smith College Center for Microscopy and Imaging to continue their exploration of microscopy and cells with a focus on cancer and HeLa cells. The students learned the basics of microscopy and plant and animal cells in late October and returned to learn more about cancer to connect the science to their reading of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which was one of their reading assignments in their preparation for the GED/Hi SET test. Allison Sirois ‘0GR and Sahar Aftab ’18 created and taught the program for the students and explored the content with a lively Q & A session at the end. Special thanks to Judith Wopereis, Technical Director of the CMI, for coordinating and mentoring.

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#1: A pair of HCC-ALC students takes a closer look at HeLa cell samples.

#2: Sahar Aftab ’18 assists one of the students in taking a cell phone picture of the HeLa cells.

#3: Holyoke Community College-Adult Learning Center students listening to an introduction of how cancer develops.

#4: Allison Sirois ‘0GR explains the tissue culture process she followed for growing the HeLa cells for the evening’s activity.

#5: Sahar Aftab ’18 and Allison Sirois ‘0GR reviewing animal cells and the basic light microscope before their introduction to cancer cells and cervical cancer.