Hey everyone! My STEAM Project identifies and explains the components of a drop of blood, which includes the cells within and the conditions that can arise from abnormal levels of the cells.
My STEAM project is based on the objectives of the key components of blood and the diseases that are caused by high white blood cell count. The main contents of blood include erythrocytes, leukocytes, and platelets. The first two are also referred to as red blood cells and white blood cells. Normally, a single drop of blood will contain millions of RBC, and only thousands of leukocytes. The function of RBCs is to obtain oxygen from the lungs and carry it to the rest of the body’s tissues. With this oxygen comes carbon dioxide, a waste product that is picked up from the tissues and travels to the lungs to be exhaled (Betts et. al, 2013, p. 91). RBCs have a unique shape that allow them to serve out their function. The biconcave disc shape of the cell makes them thinner in the middle and thicker around the edges. The shape facilitates gas exchange and allows them to fit through narrow blood vessels. Platelets are important for the repair of healing of blood vessels and tissues. Lastly, leukocytes are the cells of the body’s immune system. They fight against disease, invading microorganisms, and infection. While RBCs and WBCs have normal counts, there are instances where an increase or decrease in that count can result in certain diseases.
For my project, I have depicted the components of a drop of blood using a mason jar and other objects. I used corn syrup to make plasma, a main component of blood, red hot candies to resemble red blood cells, marshmallows for white blood cells, and Ibuprofen for platelets. In my first jar, I have displayed a “normal” ratio of red blood cells to white blood cells, however, it is not in the millions or thousands for obvious reasons. It shows a drop of blood in a healthy body. The other two pictures show a drop of blood with an increased amount of white blood cells and a drop of blood with a decreased amount of red blood cells, both of which can lead to serious health issues.
An abnormal amount of WBCs can lead to diseases like cancer, specifically leukemia, which is characterized by an abundance of leukocytes. This can produce two forms of leukemia, acute and chronic. Acute leukemia involves an increase of immature WBCs, and chronic leukemia is due to an accumulation of mature cells that are not dying properly, both of which have lost the ability to function (Shroff et. al., 2019). As there are many different types of white blood cells, cancer can be brought on by a significant increase in any of them, one of the more common ones being lymphocytes. Some less common forms of cancer can include abnormalities of B-cells or T-cells (Shroff et al., 2019).
My other photo shows a drop of blood with a decreased amount of red blood cells, which can lead to a condition called anemia. Because there are less RBCs, this leads to an overall decrease in the amount of oxygen available for the body, causing effects such as exhaustion, lack of energy, frequent headaches, and shortness of breath (Betts et al., 2013, p. 797). A more serious form of anemia called sickle cell anemia is caused by a mutation in the hemoglobin gene that produces irregularly shaped RBCs that fail to carry enough oxygen (Piccin et al., 2019). This abnormal shape prevents them from flowing through narrow vessels and stops blood flow, leading to painful joints, fatigue, swollen limbs, blindness, and a number of other health issues (Betts et al., 2013, p. 797).
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Piccin, Andrea, Murphy, Ciaran, Eakins, Elva, Rondinelli, Maria, daves, Massimo,
Vecchiato, Cinzia, . . . Smith, P. Owen. (2019) “Insight into The Complex Pathophysiology of Sickle Cell Anemia and Possible Treatment.” European
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Shroff, S. Girish, Truong, T. Mylene, Carter, W. Brett, Benveniste, F. Marcelo,
Shamanna-Kanagal, Rashmi, Rauch, Greg, . . . Wu, C. Carol. (2019).